Sri Krishna replies to one very important argument that Arjuna had raised at the end of the 1st chapter in the beginning of the 2nd chapter. He had said that, “We hear from the tradition, from the authoritative books of Shastra, from the Shruti, we hear that those who are responsible for the loss of the kuladharma, they go to hell.” This was the argument put forward by Arjuna.
The problem is that by the time that Mahabharata war is on, what is in Shruti, and what is not in Shruti, had become a very difficult question. So many things had already come about. Vedas were of course an old tradition, then there were Bhramanas, then there were Upanishads, and then there were Vedangas and Upavedas, and so many other plethora of literature, various kinds of Shastras, that what is said in the Shruti was very difficult to determine. When Arjuna says, “It is in Shruti”, and as a result of it, he was quoting it, then, Sri Krishna says that, “What you have heard, what you are going to hear, all that causes to your intelligence, instability.”
This is a very bold and very revolutionary statement: it is revolutionary because in Indian tradition, respect for the Veda was the highest; and yet, Sri Krishna says that by hearing the Shruti, your intelligence is likely to be destabilised. Therefore it is said: śruti–vipratipannā, “By hearing Sruti, your intelligence becomes destabilised”,
śruti–vipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niścalā |
samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi ||53|| (II)
It is a great statement made by Sri Krishna: that your intelligence which has been destabilised by what you have heard by Shruti, when that intelligence will become stabilised, when it will sit stable in samādhi, then your buddhi will be established in Karmayoga. This is the fourth important statement in the second chapter in regard of Karmayoga.
First was: to action alone thou hast the right and not to the fruits; the second was: the yoga is equality of consciousness; the third was that: your action must be proficient yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam; and the fourth statement: samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi, when your intelligence will be established in a state of equilibrium, this is 2ndchapter verse N.53: samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi, “You will attain to yoga when your buddhi, your intelligence will become stable in samādhi.
This statement triggers off a very important question and also a very important answer. In fact, from here to the end of this chapter, all the statements are regarded to be the most important statements. The most famous statements of the Bhagavad Gita are contained from 2nd chapter 53rd verse, up to the end of the chapter. We shall do these verses very carefully.
What does it say: that your intelligence, which is normally destabilised because you hear this, you hear that and this is what happens to all of us, we hear so many things in the world: this is right and that is right, or this wrong and that is wrong. And while action is to be performed, we are swayed by various kinds of Shrutis; some of them are very authoritative Shrutis, and you are bewildered as to what is to be done. That is why Sri Krishna says that, “You just set aside everything that you have heard, or what you are going to hear; see only one thing whether your intelligence is established in samādhi; if your intelligence is stabilised, then the action will proceed directly. It will happen; it will be the right action that will spring from you.
Therefore the question arises: what is this “stabilising the consciousness in samādhi”? In the Indian tradition the word samādhi, again, has been defined in many ways: there is this definition of samādhi that you find in the Indian philosophical system of what is called “Patanjali’s yoga”, which is also known as “Raja Yoga”, or simply known as “Yoga”.
In the Indian tradition of philosophy, there are six systems of philosophy, which are called: “Philosophies which are based on the Veda”. There are three other systems of philosophy, which do not accept the authority of the Veda, these three are: Jainism, Buddhism, and Charvaka. Charvaka is the theory of materialism, and the philosophy of Jainism is very well known in India. Even today, there are large communities in India, which are followers of Jainism. And then there is Buddhism, which at one time in India was, as it were, thrown out of India, but which is now recovering with a new sense in India and elsewhere. None of these three systems accepts Shruti. They just do not accept the authority of the Veda.