The Bhagavad Gita — Chapter 2

Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda

Cosmic Wisdom & the Method of its Attainment


O Partha ("Son of Pritha," Arjuna), surrender not to unmanliness; it is unbecoming to thee. O Scorcher of Foes, forsake this small weakheartedness! Arise! [—Commentary]


The Blessed Lord said:
Thou hast been lamenting for those not worth thy lamentations! Yet thou dost utter words of lore. The truly wise mourn neither for those who are living nor for those who have passed away.


It is not that I have never before been incarnated; nor thou, nor these other royal ones! And never in all futurity shall any one of us not exist! [—Commentary]

Alternative translation:
There has never been a time when you and I and the kings gathered here have not existed, nor will there be time when we will cease to exist.


As in the body the embodied Self passes through childhood, youth, and old age, so is its passage into another body; the wise thereat are not disturbed.




Arjuna, the ideas of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are produced by the contacts of the senses with their objects. Such ideas are limited by a beginning and an end. They are transitory, O Arjuna; bear them with patience!

O Flower among Men (Arjuna)! he who cannot be ruffled by these (contacts of the senses with their objects), who is calm and evenminded during pain and pleasure, he alone is fit to attain everlastingness! [—Commentary]


The Impermanent Is Not Real


Of the unreal, there is no existence. Of the real, there is no nonexistence. The final truth of both of these is known by men of wisdom. [—Commentary]

Alternative translation:
The impermanent has no reality; reality lies in the eternal. Those who have seen the boundary between these two have attained the end of all knowledge.


Know as imperishable the One by whom everything has been manifested and pervaded. No one has power to bring about the annihilation of this Unchangeable Spirit.


Regarded as having a termination of existence are these fleshly garments; immutable, imperishable, and limitless is the Indwelling Self. With this wisdom, O descendent of Bharata (Arjuna), battle thou!om

The Eternal Nature of the Soul


He who considers the Self as the slayer; he who deems that it can be slain: neither of these knows the truth. The Self does not kill, nor is it killed. [—Commentary]


This Self is never born nor does it ever perish; nor having come into existence will it again cease to be. It is birthless, eternal, changeless, ever-same (unaffected by the usual processes associated with time). It is not slain when the body is killed. [—Commentary]


Just as an individual forsaking dilapidated raiment dons new clothes, so the body-encased soul, relinquishing decayed bodily habitations, enters others that are new. [—Commentary]


No weapon can pierce the soul; no fire can burn it; no water can moisten it; nor can any wind wither it.

The soul is uncleavable [indivisible]; it cannot be burnt or wetted or dried. The soul is immutable, all-permeating, ever calm, and immovable— eternally the same.

The soul is said to be imponderable, unmanifested, and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing it to be such, thou shouldst not lament! [—Commentary]


But if thou dost imagine this soul incessantly to be born and to die, even in that case, O Mighty-armed (Arjuna), thou shouldst not grieve for it. For that which is born must die, and that which is dead must be born again. Why then shouldst thou grieve about the unavoidable?


Some behold the soul in amazement. Similarly, others describe it as marvelous. Still others listen about the soul as wondrous. And there are others who, even after hearing all about the soul, do not comprehend it at all. [—Commentary]


O Bharata (Arjuna), the One who dwells in the bodies of all is eternally inviolable. Grieve not, therefore, for any created being.


Benefits of Practicing Yoga


Equalizing (by evenmindedness) happiness and sorrow, profit and loss, triumph and failure—so encounter thou the battle! Thus thou wilt not acquire sin. [—Commentary]


The ultimate wisdom of Sankhya I have explained to thee. But now thou must hear about the wisdom of Yoga, equipped with which, O Partha (Arjuna), thou shalt shatter the bonds of karma. [—Commentary]


In this path (of yoga action) there is no loss of the unfinished effort for realization, nor is there creation of contrary effects. Even a tiny bit of this real religion protects one from great fear (the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death). [—Commentary]


In this Yoga, O Scion of Kuru (Arjuna), the inner determination is single, one-pointed; whereas the reasonings of the undecided mind are unending and variously ramified.


O Partha (Arjuna), no single-pointed resolution (no fixity of mind) in the meditative state of samadhi grows in those who cling tenaciously to power and sense delights, and whose discriminative intelligence is led astray by the flowery declamations of the spiritually ignorant. Contending that there is naught else than to rejoice in the laudatory aphorisms of the Vedas, their true nature being afflicted with earthly inclinations, having heaven (the pleasurable phenomena of the astral world) as their highest goal, performing the numerous specific sacrificial rites for the purpose of obtaining enjoyment and power—such persons embrace instead the cause of new births, the consequences of these (desire-instigated) actions.


Right Attitude (nonattachment, evenmindedness)


The Vedas are concerned with the three universal qualities or gunas. O Arjuna, free thyself from the triple qualities and from the pairs of opposites! Ever calm, harboring no thoughts of receiving and keeping, become thou settled in the Self. [—Commentary]


Thy human right is for activity only, never for the resultant fruit of actions. Do not consider thyself the creator of the fruits of thy activities; neither allow thyself attachment to inactivity.

O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), remaining immersed in yoga, perform all actions, forsaking attachment (to their fruits), being indifferent to success and failure. This mental evenness is termed yoga. [—Commentary]


Ordinary action (performed with desire) is greatly inferior to action united to the guidance of wisdom; therefore, O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), seek shelter in the ever-directing wisdom. Miserable are those who perform actions only for their fruits.


One who is united to cosmic wisdom goes beyond the effects of both virtue and vice, even here in this life. Therefore, devote thyself to yoga, divine union. Yoga is the art of proper action.


Those who have mastered their minds become engrossed in infinite wisdom; they have no further interest in any fruits of actions. Freed thus from the chain of rebirth, they attain the state beyond sorrow.


When thine intelligence penetrates beyond the darkness of delusion, then wilt thou attain indifference regarding matters that have been heard and matters yet to be heard.


When thine intelligence, bewildered by the variety of revealed truths, becomes securely anchored in the ecstasy of soul bliss, then wilt thou attain the final union (yoga).


Qualities of the Self-realization


He whose consciousness is not shaken by anxiety under afflictions nor by attachment to happiness under favorable circumstances; he who is free from worldly loves, fears, and angers—he is called a muni of steady discrimination.


He who is everywhere nonattached, neither joyously excited by encountering good nor disturbed by evil, has an established wisdom.


Control of Senses


When the yogi, like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs, can fully retire his senses from the objects of perception, his wisdom manifests steadiness. [—Commentary]


The man who physically fasts from sense objects finds that the sense objects fall away for a little while, leaving behind only the longing for them. But he who beholds the Supreme is freed even from longings.


O son of Kunti (Arjuna), the eager excitable senses do forcibly seize the consciousness even of one who has a high degree of enlightenment, and is striving (for liberation).


He who unites his spirit to Me, having subjugated all his senses, remains concentrated on Me as the Supremely Desirable. The intuitive wisdom of that yogi becomes steadfast whose senses are under his sway.


Sense Temptation & Anger


Brooding on sense objects causes attachment to them. Attachment breeds craving; craving breeds anger. Anger breeds delusion; delusion breeds loss of memory (of the Self). Loss of right memory causes decay of the discriminating faculty. From decay of discrimination, annihilation (of spiritual life) follows.

The man of self-control, roaming among material objects with subjugated senses, and devoid of attraction and repulsion, attains an unshakable inner calmness. [—Commentary]


In soul bliss all grief is annihilated. Indeed, the discrimination of the blissful man soon becomes firmly established (in the Self).


To the disunited (one not established in the Self) does not belong wisdom, nor has he meditation. To the unmeditative there is no tranquility. To the peaceless how comes happiness?


As a boat on the waters is carried off course by a gale, so an individual's discrimination is driven from its intended path when the mind succumbs to the wandering senses.


Realizing Peace


He is full with contentment who absorbs all desires within, as the brimful ocean remains unmoved (unchanged) by waters entering into it—not he who lusts after desires.


That person realizes peace who, relinquishing all desires, exists without craving and is unidentified with the mortal ego and its sense of "mine-ness".

O Partha (Arjuna)! this is the “established in Brahman” state. Anyone entering this state is never (again) deluded. Even at the very moment of transition (from the physical to the astral), if one becomes anchored therein, he attains the final, irrevocable, state of Spirit-communion. [—Commentary]

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