What do we learn from the Second Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita? - Sankhya Yog


In the second chapter of Srimad Bhagawad Gita, entire gist of Bhagawad is revealed to Arjuna by Shri Krishna. The other chapters of Gita are actually the detailed explanation of the queries arising in Arjuna's mind, after listening to the enlightening second chapter. The actual teaching of Gita starts from this chapter. In this article, I have tried to note down the important lessons of life which we learn from the second chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

Arjun inspected Kuruvanshis after Lord Krishna placed his chariot amid two armies. A great valor who had so much enthusiasm and passion for the war, the same Arjun, seeing his elders, relatives and gurus standing on the enemy side, became so love-sick and sorrowful by the fear of their death that his body started shivering, his bow was falling from the hands. His mind became confused. Arjuna then refused to fight, disowned his bow-arrows.

What do we learn from the Second Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita?

Shri Krishna. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada refers the second chapter as the summary of entire Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभाव:, पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसम्मूढचेता: l

यच्छ्रेय: स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे, शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् ll7II

kaarpanya-doshopahata-svabhaavah, prichchhaami tvaam dharma-sammudha-chetaaḥ

yach-chhreyah syaannishchitam bruhi tanme, shishyasteham shaadhi maam tvaam prapannam

Having been trounced by kaarpanya dosh or the blemish of cowardice, Arjun was not able to take any decision regarding Dharma (duty) with his intellect. So he left himself totally at the mercy of God. Just as a newborn child who is dependent only on mother's milk, becomes ill, and to cure his illness, the mother of the child has to take medicine, not the child. In the same manner, Arjuna also became completely dependent on God and therefore he pleaded to Shree Krishna to become his spiritual guru and guide him on the proper path of auspicious action.

All our sacred scriptures affirm in unanimity that it is through the means of a Spiritual Guru that we receive divine knowledge for our everlasting wellbeing.

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय , नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |

तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा, न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 22||

vaasaansi jeernaani yathaa vihaaya, navaani grihnaati naroparaani

tathaa shariraani vihaaya jirnaa nyanyaani sanyaati navaani dehi

How happy would a person be to shed his outmoded attires and adorns to put on new outfits? likewise, the soul keeps changing bodies from one lifetime to another. the soul discarding its old worn-out body and taking on a new body elsewhere. This is the theory of re-embodiment.

• Lord, through his heavenly sermon to Arjun, disclosed that the scholars and cultured people neither mourn for the alive nor the dead. For those who are born in this world, their death is inevitable. “It has been your imaginative & deceptive grief in killing your relatives. You are just an instrument”.

• On death, the soul is immortal, eternal, and imperishable, it moves to another body. It can’t be harmed, damaged, or ravaged in whatsoever manner. The soul is omnipresent, unchangeable, stable, and always the same. Death destroys only the physical body, but the soul continues its journey passing through many bodies for many births.

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा , 

तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति ll 13 ll

dehinosmin yathaa dehe kaumaaram yauvanam jaraa

tathaa dehaantara-praaptir dhiras tatra na muhyati.

Even in our present life, we are never the same. Our body changes every moment, which we do not realize. Our bodies change from childhood to youth to middle age to old age and then to death.

Modern science too confirms that cells within the body undergo rejuvenation —new cells taking place of the old & dead cells. Scientists believe that in one year, more than 90% of our bodily molecules transform. And yet, despite the frequent change in our body, our impression is that we are the same creature. Only because we are not this visible body, but the divine soul lying within.

The Second Chapter explains the Theory of Duty or Work.

In Bhagavad Gita the foremost duty of a being is to do action without desire.

Lord Krishna has explained this theory to his ardent friend Arjun in a very lucid & coherent manner. Although Arjuna was a Kshatriya, he was getting perplexed by his duty to fight the war. Arjun did not want this bloodshed. On the contrary, he was ready to live by begging his whole life. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and had complete control over his mind and senses. But due to his stinginess and weakness, he was nowhere in accomplishing his duty as a Kshatriya. Arjuna was Krishna's closest friend and cousin and therefore he did not want Arjuna to be called a shameful Kshatriya son and that's why he said that such a bias never suited a warrior like Arjuna.

• The religion of the Kshatriya is to protect his fellow citizens from all the troubles. Now a question arises as to who is a Kshatriya? Anyone( of whatever caste and society) who fights and lays his life to protect his fellow citizens, who help maintain peace and order in his land without desiring any reward in exchange. This is his swadharma. One who does not believe in this self-righteousness falls from the path of his duty leading to infamy and humiliation which is worse than death.

• He ordered Arjun to perform his deeds without any attachment to their fruits. (This principle of doing duty or performing works without desire for rewards is called the yoga of the intellect or buddhi-yog).

• One should apply his intellect (Vivek) to control the desire for rewards from work. By working with such resolution, the bondage-creating karmas get renovated into bondage-breaking karmas keeping away the sorrows and woes.

• The human body is built of five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Whenever these are in contact with their objects of awareness, they give rise to vibrations of happiness and distress. None of these commotions is everlasting. They keep on coming and going like the seasons. A person should never get carried away by feelings of happiness and sorrow while doing his duty.

• Although the soul is immortal, it never incites violence. Nevertheless, during wartime, violence can’t be forbidden. Through Arjuna, The Lord sets a reminder that it is a warrior’s social obligation to fight for safeguarding uprightness. Krishna affirmed that performing one’s social duty is a virtuous act.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन , 

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ll 47 ll

karmanyevaa dhikaaraste maa phaleṣhu kadaachana, 

 maa karma-phala-hetur bhurmaa te sango stva karmani

This verse emanates four guidelines regarding the Theory of work:

• You have the right to act only:

We have the right to do our duty only and never to be attached to the outcome or fruit.

All of us have diverse duties depending upon our family situation, social status, occupation, etc. It is certain to obtain the fruit from each of his karma, no one can give it up. If seeds are sown in farming, then the grain will be grown. In the same way, one who works with a selfless spirit, then he will get the result, but he will not be bound to that.

• You never have any right in the fruit or outcome.

Forget the fruits. 
The fact is that when we are indifferent about the results, we can focus entirely on our efforts, and the result would even be better. While performing these actions, we must be mindful that we are not the enjoyers of the results—the results are meant for the pleasure of God.

 Give up the egotism of a performer. Do not become the cause of the fruit of your actions

Shree Krishna wanted Arjun to give up the ego of being the doer. He warned Arjun against chasing any predetermined intention attached to his actions nor considering himself as the cause of the results of his actions.

• Do not be attached to inaction or inactivity or not doing karma.

Although the nature of a living person is to do work, now and then he might encounter a handful of tedious and confusing situations forcing him to run away and resort to inaction. It should be realized that such an attachment to inaction can never be the solution. Instead, it will only create a situation of ignorance, laziness, etc. Work is worship, work is god.

• There are two divisions – one is related to karma, second is to fruits or results. A person has the right only in the department of karma. 

The main thing in Karmayoga is to protect the rights of others by

i) doing one's duty and

ii) sacrificing privilege to the fruit of karma.

• We should realize that only the effort is in our hands, not the results. One should learn to be committed and faithful in the performance of his duties. He should Discard all types of love and liking to fame and infamy, success and failure, pleasure and pain, and accept all these as God’s will or destiny. We should learn to embrace both the circumstances - favorable and unfavorable, equally. In Gita, such equanimity is termed as ‘samta yog'.

All Desires lead to Expectations

• ‘This is a very nice object, I should get this object’– when there is such attachment, it is called a wish or desire. When there is a possibility of fulfillment of a desire, it is called hope. When one such hope is materialized, then more wishes begin to breed - known as greed. An escalation in the volume of greed yields trashna --Hunger or craving. Now, when a desire is obstructed by a weaker person, then arises anger. On the contrary, when the same is interrupted by an influential person, arises fear. 

क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रम: , 

स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ll63ll

krodhaad bhavati sammohah sammohaat smriti-vibhramaḥ

smriti-bhranshaad buddhi-naasho buddhi-naashaat pranashyati

Anger, fear, greed, lust, etc. are the maanas rog or ‘diseases of the mind’. In such a situation a person cannot judge between right or wrong and ultimately is ruined. It is a chain reaction.

• The Shrimad Bhaagavatam states that “fulfilling the desires never douse them, they never go away; instead they continue growing more powerfully. Just as an offering of butter-ghee in the fire does not quench it- instead, it makes the fire blaze even stronger.”

• These desires are just like an itch or eczema in the body. The itch is wearisome and creates a seductive urge to rub. For a few moments, there is a relief, and then the itch returns with greater intensity. Instead, if someone can withstand the itch for a little while, it starts losing its bite and ultimately runs away. The same principle pertains to desires.

दु:खेष्वनुद्विग्नमना: सुखेषु विगतस्पृह: ,

वीतरागभयक्रोध: स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ll 56 ll

duhkheshv-anudvigna-manaah sukheshu vigata-sprihah,

vita-raaga-bhaya-krodhah sthita-dheer muni ruchyate

One whose mind remains stilled and undisturbed amidst misery, who does not crave or yearn for pleasure, lust, greed, etc., does not permit the mind to succumb to any attachment, fear, envy, and anger and is free from all those urges, is called a sage or saint having uniform wisdom. In this way, the mind becomes stable on the spiritual level. He attains eternal peace or peace within.

A timely control over the rash mind and senses is essential to winning over a desire. That can be achieved by engaging and engrossing in selfless service to mankind without desiring fruits. We may term it as ‘the devotion to god’.

All the rivers of this universe fall into the ocean. Even during the rainy season, when its flow is relentless and uncontrolled then the ocean remains undisturbed maintaining its calmness and dignity (Maryada), never breaks its limits, does not inundate the earth. It is its unique proficiency.

Thus, various truths of life are taught by Sri Krishna to Arjun in the second chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Sri Krishna enlightens Arjuna with the knowledge of Sankhya yog. This chapter opens our hearts and minds to all the answers any human is looking for his spiritual development.

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