Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 11: Chapter 2—Verses 53-54 (19 December 1998)

We are still in the 2nd chapter: that means we are very, very slow. But as I have told you, I would very much like the first six chapters to be done very well, because the first six chapters are difficult on account of the manner in which the exposition is made. What remains of the 2nd chapter for us to do is perhaps the most important part of the chapter.

As you know we have started in the 2nd chapter emphasising what Sri Krishna says: the distinction between the Buddhi yoga, as applied to the process of knowledge, and Buddhi yoga as applied to the process of action. What Sri Krishna has said is that it is possible to be in the state of freedom, freedom from all grief, if you follow the process of knowledge by applying Buddhi yoga. And then Sri Krishna says that Buddhi yoga if applied to action that even while doing action, you can have the experience of freedom.

And then after, we had three important sentences which we underlined. First was the famous sentence: karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana (2.47), “To action alone hast thou the right, and not to the fruits of action.” This is, you might say, the first step of Karma yoga, although many people regarded it to be the last and final message of the Gita, but this is only the first step.

And then, there are two other statements, which we emphasised: yoga samatvaṁ ucyate (2.48), “The equality of consciousness is what is called yoga”: the Karma yoga means state of equality while doing action. If you can maintain a state in which there is no desire for honour or dishonour, pleasure or pain, happiness or misery, gain or loss, merely doing an action, if that state is maintained, that state of equality itself is called Karma yoga. This is the second statement we saw.

The third statement that we saw was: yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (2.50), “The proficiency of action, even when there is no desire for the fruits of action, when you can attain that proficiency, that is the sign that you are a Karmayogin.” This statement was necessary because very often, when there is no desire for the fruit of action, then, the process of action becomes very loose, lethargic, indifferent, negligent. As many people do their duties, for the sake of duty, but then there is not that much of application, of consciousness, therefore, Sri Krishna says that, “Even when you do not have desire for the fruits of action, your proficiency of action should be perfect.”

Question: The proficiency of action also includes the completion of a particular action?

Absolutely, that’s why; your action should be perfect, take for example: Arjuna’s function or action was to shoot enemies, and shoot perfectly well. Now, if there is any kind of deficiency in that action, it is not action. So there must be perfection of the means of action, the force applied in the action, the intention in producing the result, no negligence of the consequence of action. Action by definition means: “Will applied to the production of result”. The very definition of action is result: “Will applied to the production of result”. So, to produce the result, and yet not to have the desire for the fruit of action, this a very subtle distinction, that even when you do not desire the fruit of action, your intention must be to produce the result, and do everything to produce the result, and yet, you have no desire to enjoy the fruit of action. That state is called the state of Karma yoga. So, these are three statements that are very important in the second chapter.

Now comes the most important statement of the Bhagavad Gita. 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.

Now 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. So, 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.”

Now 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 ||2.53||

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 Karma yoga. This is the fourth important statement in the second chapter in regard of Karma yoga.

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 now comes the fourth statement: samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi, when your intelligence will be established in a state of equilibrium, this is 2nd chapter verse 53: samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi, “You will attain to yoga when your buddhi, your intelligence will become stable in samādhi.

Now, 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. So, we shall do these verses very carefully.

Now, what does it say: that your intelligence, which is normally destabilised because you hear this, you hear that, 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 spring from you; it will be the right action that will spring from you.

Therefore the question arises: what is this “stabilising the consciousness in samādhi”? Now, 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 philosophical tradition.

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.

There are six systems of philosophy, which accept the authority of the Veda: they are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa, and Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta: Uttara Mimamsa is also called Vedanta. Six systems: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa, and Uttara Mimamsa.

So, among these six systems, there is one system which is called “Yoga”. Therefore in Indian tradition, many people when you talk of yoga, they only think of this “Yoga”, which is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. It is assumed that all that is said about yoga is contained in that book of Patanjali, which is not true. It is only one of the systems. But in that system, the highest stage of yoga is called samādhi.

Here also you find the word samādhi: therefore, an impression could be created that by samādhi is meant in the Gita, the same as what is meant by samādhi in the yoga of Patanjali. But this is not true. The word samādhi is used in the Gita with a special meaning. So let us see first of all what does samādhi mean, in the yoga of Patanjali; so that by contrast we should be able to find out, and determine the meaning of samādhi as used in the Bhagavad Gita.

It is aṣṭāṇga; there are 8 stages of Yoga in the system of Patanjali. There is yama, niyama, these are the two, then comes āsana, then comes prāṇāyāma, then pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna, and samādhi. These are the eight steps of that yoga. Now, it is not my purpose to go into all these details.

The important point is that according to Patanjali’s yoga, the vibrations of consciousness, the modifications of consciousness, which are constantly occurring in our mind, in our stuff of consciousness, are to be stabilised. These vibrations, these modifications are to be stilled:

yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ [yogasūtra 1.2]

That is the definition. “yogaś-cittavṛtti-nirodhaḥ”: nirodhaḥ means retrained, stoppage, cessation of cittavṛtti. All the modifications of consciousness (citta means stuff of consciousness), which includes everything that is in us: passions, desires, instincts, sense of myself, sense of otherness, the sense of happiness and misery, this thought or that thought, this idea or that idea, this emotion, or that emotion, everything that is a modification of consciousness, all that has to be stabilised, stilled. This is the aim of that yoga.

And when that happens, according to this yoga, there is the knowledge of the “Self”, in which there is the stillness of the being: your own being is found to be absolutely silent, and that is to be supposed the highest stage of yoga. The cessation of the modifications of consciousness, which are occurring in our outer being, and with that cessation, the realisation of the inner self, which is completely silent, which has to make no effort at all to be silent because its very nature is that of silence. And therefore, to remain completely silenced, that is supposed to be the highest achievement of Yoga in Patanjali.

Now that stage is achieved by 4 processes: pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi: pratyāhāra means, you first of all determine one object, whatever object it may be. You don’t need to believe in God, or in Self, or anything, in order to pursue this Yoga. Therefore, it is irrespective of religious belief or creed or dogma. Therefore, Yoga is regarded as a science, just as a scientist requires no belief, excepting what he is to find out himself by his personal experimentation. Similarly in yoga, you select any object: it may be a tip of a lamp, it may be a tip of the nose, it may be the tip of your tongue, it may be the tip of the middle point of your eyebrows, it may be this object, or that object, or that object, or anything. You simply decide that that is the object on which you will concentrate. Now, in this process of concentration, the first thing that will happen is that you will be distracted to think of other things.

When you decide that you will think only of this object, our consciousness, which is constantly flickering, our consciousness which is like a marketplace, where there is a lot of hustle and bustle going on, where all kinds of noises and sights are fleeting in a flux, and they arrest your consciousness, and your consciousness drips, runs along all the trains of movement. That train is to be withdrawn. So, this is a negative movement: withdraw from all others, so that you are drawn back to this object.

It is like a child whom you want that he should read the book, and give the book in his hand and say: “Now read”. But here television is going on, here some guest is coming in, here the food is being prepared, the fourth a friend is calling, a fifth is a telephone call, and the child wants to do everything else except reading the book. He just wants to run out, and you want to draw back: this bringing the child back to the book is what is called pratyāhāra. Constantly bring back the individual to the object of concentration.

When you are able to do that, then comes the next step which is called dhāraṇā: dhāraṇā is when you can concentrate on the object for quite some time: maybe for two minutes, maybe for three minutes, when your consciousness really gets stuck to it. When a child becomes interested in mathematics, falls in love with mathematics, even when he is called to take food, he does not bother about food, he is engaged in a problem solving, and wants to solve the problem, even if it is twelve o’clock at night, he doesn’t want to give it up, he is now in a state of dhāraṇā: one object on which the consciousness becomes concentrated that is the stage of dhāraṇā.

When in that stage of dhāraṇā the consciousness begins to experience the object, and for quite some time, that is called dhyāna. Now, this element of experience is very important. In the stage of dhyāna, there is a double movement: there is the movement of idea, and then, there is the movement of experience.

Shakuntala in her thoughts of Dushyanta, to such an extent that when Durvasa comes and calls out to open the door, so that she is not even able to hear it: that is the state of dhyāna. This is not merely an idea of Dushyanta, there is the experience of Dushyanta, so absorbing. Now, when that happens with your object of concentration, whichever you select, there is an idea, and there is an experience developing out of the idea, that is called dhyāna. That is really what is called meditation; this is the real understanding of meditation: to meditate is to have concentration on the idea of the object, and the development of experience corresponding to the idea of the object, that is meditation proper.

Question: Do you need to focus on only one thing or can you focus on different things at different times?

According to yoga philosophy only one object, I am not describing any other yoga at present. According to the Yoga system of philosophy, you select one object, any object: you select God as an object, you select the soul as an object; you can select any object, but what is important is that you have one object.

Comment: The object could be a mantra also?

It can be anything, yes; it can be a word even, like “OM”, but any object, but one fixed object.

So, to concentrate upon the idea of the object, and then, on the development of experience corresponding to the idea, that is the heart of meditation. So when that goes on for quite some time, then you enter into a state of samādhi.

Now what are the marks of samādhi? When can you say that you have attained to samādhi? Samadhi is a state in which there is a complete absorption of your consciousness into the object: there is now no more even the idea of the object, and the experience developing out of the idea of the object. But when the consciousness is completely absorbed into the object, even the ‘ideative’ experience is gone, finished; there is no ‘ideative’ movement, no idea, it’s a pure experience, and the object in itself, is illumined: you experience the object by a sort of identity with the object.

Now, when that happens in the beginning, the contents of the object begin to reveal themselves. This is a very important consequence, which occurs in that state of consciousness. It is claimed that if I concentrate upon this book, just this book, you concentrate on it, and if you have reached the state of samadhi, then what is in this book will begin to reveal itself out to you: you don’t need to read the book, but what is in the book, will begin to be revealed to you, your object of experience becomes so intense that the knowledge contained in the book will be automatically…will begin to arise in you…

Comment: I never knew it is samadhi, but I experienced that. I was sitting on one mahāmṛtyunjaya mantra, and I saw really, Shiva with three eyes in the flames, and I think this is something in my mind only, but now when you say, I believe it’s a samadhi only.

Yes, it is. This is the first, one of the important elementary stages of samādhi: when the objects begin to reveal themselves out.

Comment: I thought it is imagination.

No, no, no. It’s not imagination, but it is what begins to reveal itself. That is called the experience of revelation. The object reveals itself. I want to know you for example, and I do samādhi on you. You yourself will tell me what you are; you may not be knowing yourself what you are, but you will reveal yourself out. That is why to the yogi, you take up any object and if he is capable of samādhi, he would be able to know what is happening there. That is why, even while sitting on the Himalayas, you can just will something, it will happen somewhere else, because all space and time is reduced to nullity. There is ubiquity, there is all-pervasiveness.

Patanjali has given numerous examples of how various kinds of knowledge can be developed by entering into samadhi consciousness, elementary stages of samādhi. It is said that if you concentrate upon a planet, you get the whole knowledge of astronomy, without reading the books of astronomy. If you concentrate upon a word, then the language can be learned very easily, even the bird’s languages, they also have languages, they can also be learnt, and you can learn what the birds are talking to each other, in what language. All these have been written in the text; and such are the consequences of the power of samādhi . But these are elementary stages of samādhi.

Now if you concentrate upon God, and why not, He is everything to concentrate upon than anything else, and if you can concentrate upon God, then all that God is will be revealed. As you saw the flames of Shiva, it is a revelation that the mantra is nothing but the nature of Shiva. And Shiva is immortal, so that is the real meaning. And immortality is a flame, the Agni, which never dies. It is the meaning of the mantra in the image of Shiva as a flame that reveals itself to you.

Similarly, if you concentrate upon the supreme Divine, you take up any aspect of God: God as love. You concentrate upon God as love; allow first of all the idea of God as love to develop and if you attain to dhyāna, meditation in which the experiences of God as love will begin to flower in you, and then, you will find the universality of God’s love everywhere manifest. That is the experience of God as love, you will really have no question in your mind that God is love: the Divinity of love, or love as God, or God as love will be a matter of your direct experience…

Comment: when you get completely absorbed in that…

…when you attain to that absorption.

Similarly, if you are concentrated upon the silence of the Self, then, the silence of the Self is revealed. And even if you try to bring thought movement, it won’t come, now if you say “Let me think on this subject”, there will be no thought invading you at all. There is no space for thought; there is only the substance of the self in you, and all your being. These are elementary stages of samādhi.

There is a distinction made between, savitarka samādhi, when the samādhi is still ideative: it has still the roots of vibrations, even when there is a silence, it has still the seeds of activity. But there is a higher samādhi: niścalā samādhi; complete cessation, not even seeds of activity.

If you read Sri Ramakrishna’s experiences, he used to enter into samādhi state, to such an extent, that even if you shake the whole body, there is no awareness in that consciousness of the shaking. Even if you speak loudly, or even if you have drum beaten around you, the consciousness is so much absorbed in silence, that none of these things make an effect on you. In that state, many yogis depart from the body, and they attain to a state from which there is no return. Now this is what is called samādhi in the yoga system of Patanjali.

Now here you find:

śruti-vipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niścalā |
samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi ||2.53||

Here also there is a mention of niścala, something which is completely motionless: niścalā; samādhāv acalā buddhi: buddhi when it becomes acalā, samādhāv, in the samadhi.

So, here there is a complete identity with the description given in the yoga of Patanjali and description given here. That when your buddhi becomes acalā, completely stabilised, in that state of trance, then you will attain to yoga. But surprisingly yoga here means the Karmayoga; you will be able to perform action, and the right action, faultless action. Now, this is not in the classical philosophy of yoga.

It is…there, the emphasis is upon withdrawal from action, and you become withdrawn. Whereas here, it is said: “samādhāv acalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi”. Yoga actually, as Sri Krishna says: “By yoga I mean the Karma yoga, and you will attain to yoga when your buddhi, your intelligence, becomes completely stabilised in samādhi”.

Then comes the question, the famous question of Arjuna, which triggers off the answer of Sri Krishna, which is on of the most important illuminating answers in the Bhagavad Gita. So, I propose to read this whole thing, so that textually you have a concrete idea of what the Gita means by samādhi. Now here, in 2nd chapter, verse 54, Arjuna asks this question:

sthita-prajñasya kā bhāṣā samādhi-sthasya keśava |
sthita-dhīḥ kiṁ prabhāṣeta kim āsīta vrajeta kim ||2.54||

sthita-prajña: that is to say, one whose prajña, his intelligence, has become stabilised, of that, kā bhāṣā, how does he speak? One who is in samādhi, one who is samādhistha, (stha means that which is sthira), that which is established in samādhi, one whose prajña is sthita, so: sthita-prajñasya samādhi-sthasya kā bhāṣā.

“O Keshava, keśava, what is the language? How does he speak? One who is established in prajña is sthita, and one whose consciousness is in samādhi, sthitadīḥ, one whose intelligence is again stabilised sthitadīḥ kiṁ prabhāṣeta, how does he speak? kiṁ prabhāṣeta, how does he sit? vrajeta kim, how does he walk about?”

…it is the most important; this is the most famous passage of the Bhagavad Gita.

There is a school of philosophy in the world today, which is called: “Behaviourism”. According to this school of psychology, a man can be judged by his behaviour; and according to this psychology, a man is said to be educated, when you affect his behaviour: this is philosophy and psychology. If you can change the behaviour, education itself is defined: education is a process by which the behaviour can be changed in the direction in which the teacher wants the behaviour to be changed. This is one of the definitions of education given in behaviourism, behaviourism is a “natural” philosophy of the outer man; the outer man always thinks that man can be judged by his behaviour, and that man is nothing but behaviour: then what is in man? It is only…only his behaviour.

“This” man is successful. Why is he successful? The outer psychology simply tells you, “Oh! He is successful because he walks about in a particular fashion; he speaks in a particular way; oh! His body language is wonderful, he knows when to use ‘this’ word, and he knows when to use ‘that’ word”. This is how many people study successful people, and they give you prescriptions that if you do the same thing, like Carnegie says in: ‘How to win friends and influence people’, if you call anybody by his personal name, you are likely to become more friendly with that person. One of the prescriptions, outer behaviour: you just call somebody by his personal name, and you become intimate with that person; or it affects that individual so much that the other person is attracted towards you. So things of this kind are prescribed by behaviouristic philosophy. This behaviourism is natural to every human being who wants to judge human beings outwardly.

Now, Arjuna who is still engaged in his outer psychology, is very much affected by his outer being: his entire crisis is the crisis of the outer man. And Sri Krishna is constantly drawing him out from his external consciousness to the internal consciousness. And now, when Sri Krishna speaks of samādhistha, of a state of consciousness, which is completely inward, then Arjuna asks the question: “Tell me, what is his language, how does he speak, how does he sit, how does he move about?” The assumption is that by knowing his outer movements you will find out whether this is sthitaprajña or not.

Now Sri Krishna’s answer is…that He does not answer this question. The question is in a sense irrelevant: you cannot judge a sthitaprajña whether he smiles, or does not smile; whether he welcomes people, or he scoffs at people. You cannot judge a sthitaprajña by all these outer means at all. Then what is the answer that Sri Krishna gives? In this answer He gives descriptions, in which there is a complete union of Karmayoga, Jnanayoga, and Bhaktiyoga. We shall see how he answers. But the first thing is, he says:

prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha mano-gatān |
ātmany evātmanā tuṣṭaḥ sthita-prajñas tadocyate ||2.55||

Now this is a standard that he now gives, which you cannot judge from his smile, or from his talk: prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha mano-gatān. All the kāmān, all the kāmā, all the desires, which arise in the mind, all, all the desires, prajahāti, he has given up. When all the desires that arise in the mind are given up; ātmany evātmanā tuṣṭaḥ, when he is completely content, settled in his own self, sthita-prajñas tadocyate. This is the answer to our jnani: Jnanayoga. ātmany evātmanā tuṣaṭḥ, he is completely settled in his own self: that states where all the desires, which come to the mind are all given up.

He does not answer how, what is his bhāṣā, you can see here. He simply gives a kind of a standard, which you can judge only when you yourself experience: the similar recognises the similar. If you have not gone beyond desires, do not expect that by outer means you will be able to find out whether he is sthita-prajña or not.

So, this first sentence is an answer to Arjuna, but a kind of a shattering answer. In a certain sense He says to Arjuna: “Don’t ask me irrelevant questions”. He simply says, in a very polite manner that, “Well if you want to judge, whom will you call sthita-prajña? When all the desires, which arise in the mind are given up, and when he is completely content within oneself, by the self, then you can call him sthita-prajña. Now he gives a detail of all this:

duḥkheṣv anudvigna-manāḥ sukheṣu vigata-spṛhaḥ |
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhaḥ sthita-dhīr munir ucyate ||2.56||

“In the state of misery, he does not feel miserable at all. In the state of happiness, he is free from any kind of attachment; vītarāgabhayakrodhaḥ, in him there is no attraction, there is no fear, and there is no anger; when this state is achieved, then that is called, sthitadhīḥ: then he is the real muni, and he is one who is established in stable consciousness.”

yaḥ sarvatrānabhisnehas tat tat prāpya śubhāśubham |
nābhinandati na dveṣṭi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2.57||

“He who is without attachment in everything and who neither rejoices nor hates in whatever good and evil he may obtain; his wisdom is firm.”

yadā saṁharate cāyaṁ kūrmo ’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ |
indriyāṇīindriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2.58||

Now we come to a different level. Up till now, we had been considering the major experiences of sukha, duḥkha, veṣa, rāga, vaya, krodha. Now, we come to a deeper level, even the level of senses: indriyā . One was never been able to the yoga of indriyā(s), he will never be able to achieve sthita-prajña: the state of sthita-prajña, is achieved only, not only when you are out of fear and attachment are conquered, but even indriyā(s), even the senses: because basically, we are guided and ruled by senses.

As Katha Upanishad says that all human beings have their doors open outward: eyes and ears and everything, all the doors of the body are open outward; therefore we are constantly driven by the outward objects. Then, what should you do? kūrmo’ṅgānīva: “Just as the tortoise withdraws all its organs within itself and covers them with its shell, when the individual is able to control all the senses in a similar manner, then even when the senses are active, even then, his senses are withdrawn, when such a state is obtained, then the intelligence becomes stable”; tasya prajñā pratiṣthitā , his intelligence becomes established.

Question: Can it have another meaning also? indriyāṇ īndriyārtheṣu tasya prajñā. So indriyā(s) are doing their work, but still he is not active with that.

He is restrained. Now on this subject Sri Krishna elucidates because…it is a very difficult subject. The senses are used and yet senses are withdrawn. So, Sri Krishna says:

viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ |
rasa-varjaṁ raso ’py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate ||2.59||

If you don’t take food, your indriyā, which enjoys food, what happens to that? viṣayā vinivartante, the objects of your desire, they withdraw from you, or you are withdrawn from them: nirāhārasya dehinaḥ; when the individual who lives in this body, when he becomes nirāhāra, when no food is given to the objects of the senses, to the senses…it is not only a question of one who fasts, it is nirāhāra: āhāra is the object of food respective to every indriyā. Sight is the āhāra of the eyes; the music is the āhāra of the ears; softness is the āhāra of the touch; fragrance is the āhāra of the smell. Similarly, all the objects by which our indriyā(s) are attracted, make it nirāhāra. You fast, let all the indriyā(s) fast, but even then, one is not freed from rasa.

You may become…, because you do not take food for example, your tongue may not desire a particular food, or this food or that food; you may not crave for ice cream, even though when you like it very much, but because your nirāhāra, you have withdrawn your senses out of this, yet, rasavarjaṁ raso ’py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate. Even then, the rasa for ice cream is not gone: desire for ice cream may go, but the rasa, but even that rasa is transcended, paraṁ dṛṣṭvā. When you see the Supreme, then even the rasa goes away: ice cream is nothing before the sight of Supreme; then you become free completely from all hankering after rasa:

viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ |
rasa-varjaṁ raso ’py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate ||2.59||

Comment: In other words when you are fasting and you think, “I am not eating today, as you say, for ice cream, but I will eat it tomorrow.”

Tomorrow, you are quite right, yes, on the contrary sometimes it becomes more acute: when you do not eat something which you like very much, for five days you are able to withdraw, but then the rasa becomes extremely powerful, you want to enjoy thoroughly afterwards.

Now Sri Krishna knowing this, He says:

yatato hy api kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ |
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁ manaḥ ||2.60||

Sri Krishna is a great psychologist, He knows that even when you try your utmost, yatato hy api, even if you try, if you make prayatna, yatato hy api, you make your best effort, puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ, even when you are enlightened, even then, such an individual’s indriyā(s), pramāthīni haranti, there are troublesome indriyā(s), and they draw you to the objects of senses.

Even when you work very hard, even when you know, even when you are enlightened indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁ manaḥ: the mind is irresistibly drawn towards the objects of your senses. Then what is to be done? This yoga of indriyā(s) is one of the most difficult Yogas; then answer is:

tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ |
vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2.61||

The only remedy for the control of senses is mat-paraḥ. This is one word, which is of tremendous significance: there is no way of conquering senses, except being completely absorbed in the Divine: mat-paraḥ. You do any kind of austerity; you fast ten times, hundred times, fifty times, but unless you become mat-paraḥ, unless you are completely absorbed in the bhakti of the Supreme…this is the answer of the bhakta: it is only by supreme bhakti, that you can really enter into a complete control of the senses.

You will see that in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna refers Himself as the Lord, but in a very sparing manner. You will see up till now, Sri Krishna has not said: “I am the Lord”. This is the first time, when He says: matparaḥ; first time after such a long conversation, Sri Krishna now reveals, and that too, little by little you know it’s like a jet; gradually, later on of course, it will come in a very big pouring of the rain as it were, when He will reveal that He is the Lord, but here, only in passing, in one word: mat-paraḥ. He doesn’t expound further, simply says: mat-paraḥ. When you become completely absorbed in Me, in the Divine, then, vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi, when all his indriyā(s), senses become vaśe, becomes completely controlled, tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā, then his intelligence becomes completely stabilised.

Now, Sri Krishna gives an exposition of various stages of consciousness by which we are really in bondage. All that He has explained so far, about the emotions, about the thoughts, about the senses, all these assume that we are in bondage, and we are in the state of preparing ourselves to liberate. You cannot be sthitaprajña unless you are liberated: liberated from senses, attraction, liberated from emotions, liberated from ignorance. Through Jnana yoga, you can be liberated from ignorance; through Karma yoga you become liberated from various kinds of emotions, and dynamic activities; through Bhakti yoga you attain even to the control of senses: matparaḥ. But what is it, why is it, how is it, that we have come in the present condition where we are? If you know this whole process, then the reversal becomes possible. How have I become bound? If this knowledge is obtained, then I can reverse it, and by reversal, you can attain to liberation. Therefore now, Sri Krishna explains, very briefly:

dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣūpajāyate |
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate ||2.62||

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ |
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati ||2.63||

This is the process: dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ. When the individual thinks of the objects…the individual is the subject; when he thinks of the objects, and often thinks of the objects, this is the beginning of the bondage. Then, saṅgas teṣūpajāyate, then, attachment is created. This attachment actually reaches to the point of identification.

Actually speaking, the root trouble of all our problems is “identification”: I become identified with the objects on which I am contemplating all the time. By thinking of the objects, I get identified. Identification is another word of bondage. Bondage is nothing but identification: I become bound by my body because I think of the body; I become bound by emotions because I think of emotions; I am attracted towards things because I think of those things; I am repelled by things because I think of those things. Even hatred is the reverse of attachment. And I am identified with my mind because I constantly think of the objects of my thought: dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣūpajāyate.

saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ: this one word is of supreme importance: how does desire arise? It arises from saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ: desire arises out of identification (saṅga means the attachment, or identification); saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ, desire arises only because of identification. If therefore, you ask to be free from desire, it means that now you can reverse it: don’t identify, and you will be free from desire. So saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate: from kāma, from desire alone arises the krodha. You will never become angry if you don’t have desire; because when desire is thwarted, I feel unhappy and I become angry.

I want to meet somebody, and I am refused admission to that person: I become angry. I want to pass the examination, I fail: I become angry with the whole world. When I want to achieve the first position, I am denied that position: I become angry, all because of desire. All anger is a result of desire: kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate. krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ, when you are bewildered by krodha, then sammohaḥ, you begin to think illusory things. What is not there you begin to see there: sammohaḥ bhavati, all kinds of delusions arise out of krodha.

You begin to see the motives in other people’s minds, which don't exist. You attribute all kinds of evil designs to those people who have been the cause of your failure. You see the whole world in a topsy-turvy condition. Delusions arise: krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ; sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ: when there is delusion, then you don’t remember what you are. Your entire being is lost, smṛti-vibhramaḥ, your memory gets completely bewildered; smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo, when you do not remember your Self, then buddhi gets destroyed: buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati. And you yourself get destroyed when the buddhi is destroyed.

Now this is in two words, in two verses, Sri Krishna has given complete psychology of bondage, and therefore by consequence, by implication the whole process of recovery of liberation.

Now, therefore Sri Krishna now says:

rāga-dveṣa-viyuktais tu viṣayān indriyaiś caran |
ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmā prasādam adhigacchati ||2.64||

The objects of desire, the objects of attachment and envy, and when, even when your indriyā(s) are moving about, but they are completely under the control of the Self, then you enter into a complete state of prasāda: prasāda is another word for liberation, you become liberated. See, in one line, the answer is given; how to come out of all this:

rāga-dveṣa-vimuktais tu viṣayān indriyaiś caran |
ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmā prasādam adhigacchati||

“The self-controlled man, though enjoying the sensory objects with his senses restrained and free from attachment and hatred, obtains peace.”

Now we will see here that this samādhi of which Sri Krishna speaks, is not a samādhi of inactivity: indriyaiś caran, even when the senses are active…I may be a film director, and directing a film in which all the senses are absolutely at play. In fact film direction is the one field, in which all the senses are profusely used. Even while directing the film, if you are already settled within yourself, prasādam adhigacchati, you are liberated.

Therefore, this samādhi, is the Samadhi of the Karmayogin. It is not a samādhi of a one who doesn’t do any actions, and remains away from everything: this samādhi of Sri Krishna speaks is the most difficult and the highest kind of samadhi, the state of the inmost condition of consciousness, which is completely consistent with the most dynamic action.

In fact this is the secret message of the Gita. Arjuna was asked to do an action, ghoraṁ karma, the most difficult kind of work, of slaughtering, slaughtering his own brethren, his teachers, his sires, his grand-sires, this is the action, ghoraṁ karma in which all the senses are at work; all the emotions are at work; all kinds of thoughts are at work, such an action, in that action to attain to a complete silence of the Divine. This condition is the samādhistha of the Bhagavad Gita. Not one who runs away from action, and attains to peace by remaining away from action, which is much easier; but to be in the very field of action, and yet not to forget even for one minute, no smṛti-bhraṁśād; there is no loss of memory, there is no buddhi-nāśāḥ, the complete control, a complete stabilisation in the Self at the same time: that is samādhistha.

prasāde sarva-duḥkhānāṁ hānir asyopajāyate |
prasanna-cetaso hy āśu buddhiḥ paryavatiṣṭhate ||2.65||

“In that peace of mind, three-fold sorrows no longer exist, because the intellect of the person, whose mind is full of bliss, is soon established in Brahman.”

nāsti buddhir ayuktasya na cāyuktasya bhāvanā |
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham ||2.66||

One of the most important questions that Arjuna had asked of Sri Krishna was: “I am gripped by grief, please show me how this grief can go away from me”.

So Sri Krishna now says:

nāsti buddhir ayuktasya na cāyuktasya bhāvanā |
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham ||

As long as you are aśānta, kutaḥ sukham, where will happiness come to you? “One who is not united with the Higher Self, there is no intellect for him and there is no concentration in the unsteady mind, and to the un-meditative mind, there is no peace. How can there be any happiness to one who is without peace?”

Now, the subject of indriyā(s) is once again brought in, because this is one of the most difficult subjects of yoga, and therefore Sri Krishna comes again and says:

indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate |
tad asya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi ||2.67||

One whose senses are moving about, his mind also moves about, because the mind is simply connected with indriyā(s). His intelligence is drawn away harati prajñāṁ, and he is like a boat in the water driven by the winds: as the winds blow the boat, so the indriyā(s) go on with us, and we are like a boat driven by the winds of the senses.

tasmād yasya mahā-bāho nigṛhītāni sarvaśaḥ |
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2.68||

“Therefore, O Mighty-Armed Arjuna! One whose senses are completely restrained from their objects, then his intelligence is firmly established.”

Now comes a further elucidation, but also a new concept, and this is one of the most famous sentences of the Bhagavad Gita:

yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī |
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ ||2.69||

The simple meaning is, “That which is night to the people, at that time, the self controlled awakes, and that which is a waking time for people, for the muni that is the night time.”

What it really means is that the objects of the senses, in which normally human beings become awake, those objects are really darkness for the muni. They are nothing but objects of ignorance; therefore, they are objects of the night. And that in which people are taking no interest at all, in regard to which there is no awakening at all, in regard to them, the muni is fully awake. With regard to God, or Self, for people, these subjects are subjects of night: they are not simply interested. You talk of God and you yawn; you talk of the Self and has no effect on you: this is the normal run of people. But for the muni, it is that in which he becomes awake, about God he is awake, about Self, he is awake, and normal things in which people take so much of interest, that to the muni is darkness of night:

yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī |
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ ||2.69||

āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat |
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī ||2.70||

“You attain to such a silence, such a silence of the being, that even when desires begin to flow all around you, even when they flow into you, they become completely quiet.”

The mad, mad elephant drunk with wine, released against Buddha, the silence of Buddha is so great, that as the elephant rushes into him, the elephant becomes quiet and falls at the feet of Buddha: such is the power of the silent Self.

Just as hundreds of rivers come into the ocean, and the ocean which is full, always remains full. Whether five rivers meet, or ten rivers meet, or thousand rivers meet. That ocean is so full; it always remains full. Similarly, the Self is so full: desires can come to you only when you are not full. When you want something, when you are incomplete, but when you are really complete you don’t desire anything at all, even if ten thousand desires are presented to you, and they try to enter into you, those kāmā(s) themselves become quiet as soon as they enter into you. Such is the capacity of a sthitaprajña

Now comes the conclusion:

vihāya kāmān yaḥ sarvān pumāṁś carati niḥspṛhaḥ |
nirmamo nirahaṁkāraḥ sa śāntim adhigacchati ||2.71||

vihāya kāmān, all desires are to be thrown out, and when a person becomes niḥspṛhaḥ, he becomes completely detached, niḥspṛhaḥ. There is no identification; nirmamo, because no identification there is nothing mine and thine, nirmamo, no identification; nirahaṁkāraḥ, therefore there is no egoism; sa śāntim adhigacchati, he enters into complete peace.”… but therefore not inactive.

eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ…Sri Krishna returns again to action:

eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha naināṁ prāpya vimuhyati |
sthitvāsyām anta-kāle ’pi brahma-nirvāṇam ṛcchati ||2.72||

Such is the condition in which you should be established, day and night, even anta-kāle ’pi, even at the end. Therefore, in all your activities you should remain in this sthitiḥ, in all your activities. Then, even at the end, as here, you enter into Brahman.

What is Brahma Nirvana will come in the 6th chapter again, when we will come to the 6th chapter, there is a further elucidation of Brahma Nirvana. But as far as this chapter is concerned, you have now a complete exposition of Buddhiyoga applied to action. So that, even when you are active, you become free in action. So this is the 2nd chapter, and I think we have taken a lot of time on this, but this is a very important chapter, and the 2nd chapter is in a sense…contains almost everything that is in all the 18 chapters.

Question: Is the enjoyment of all the fine arts also included in the rasa of the senses?

Yes, but as I gave the example of a film director, you cannot be a good film director unless you have mastery over rasa.

Comment: He can appreciate, but he is not indulging.

That’s right, he is master of all rasas, and yet he is not affected; if you can become a good film director, and yet you are in Samadhi, it is one of the best tests, whether you are samādhistha or not.

Comment: But mastery is essential to…

Mastery is essential, no doubt to attain to the sthiti of brāhmī, brāhmī sthiti, it is not by running away from objects of senses. The whole world is for bhunjīthāḥ tena tyaktena: tena tyaktena bhunjīthāḥ (Isha Upanishad 1), “Enjoy the whole world.” Everything here is an object of enjoyment, enjoyment of what? Of yourself, of Oneself, of the Divine. Everywhere there is the Divine, and Divine is nothing but Ananda.

There are many commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. There are many angles from which you can see, and there are many processes, which have been given. Take for example, to remain in the field of senses, and objects of senses, and yet to be completely master of all the senses, and the rasas: you cannot prescribe this to everybody. You cannot say to somebody, “Go and dance and music, disco dance you do, and then have no desire at all”. To the unripe individuals, you cannot make a prescription of this kind. To many people, there is a need to restrain from objects of senses; to other people, mere restraint is not enough.

There is one very interesting example given by Kishore Lal Mashuwala. You must have heard of him, but many others may not have heard of him. Kishore Lal Mashuwala was the author who has given a complete digest of Gandhian thought. He is regarded as the best exponent of Gandhism. In my college days, I used to correspond with him. I used to write letters to him, and he used to answer my questions. Now in one of his expositions of his own personal life, he said: “I was experimenting with asvāda”: asvāda is a very difficult process in which, you do not enjoy, even when you eat certain objects, which are offered to you, of which you are very fond.

How to achieve a state of asvāda? So, he gave up all the objects in which he was really interested, all the objects of which he was very fond he gave up, because that is a normal thing, when you like something, you like to eat more and more of it; you want to enjoy it more and more. So, to achieve mastery, he gave up all the objects in which he was taking interest.

Then what happened, then he began to take other objects in which he was not interested; but then he found that he began to take interest in them also: you know, when you are completely bereft, then, even things you may not like, the dry loaf normally. But when you are completely hungry, and you have one dry loaf available to you, how sweet it is! All the rasa comes into it. So he said, “I began to enjoy even those things, which I was never enjoying before.” Then he said: “What to do?” So, he said, “I started to take Quinine”. Quinine is the bitterest thing. Suicide, we cannot take Quinine, “But even with regard to Quinine, I began to take interest in it”.

So, one who is really in that state of practising, one has to pass through so many stages of restraint, and use of senses, and then, consequently fall into the objects of senses, and yet train yourself again, and again, and again, and again, tirelessly. Therefore, it is a long, long process, but Sri Krishna says that unless you achieve that, the grief with which you are gripped, you cannot be free from it. And it is that difficult teaching that Arjuna is in need of, at that critical hour. And the importance of the Gita is that such is the state in which we are bound to come, at one stage of life or another. If you are not to come into the same stage, there is no relevance. But the point is that each one of us, at one stage or the other, is bound to reach that crisis. Therefore it is better that we are forewarned, and we are told how to prepare ourselves to meet that crisis, and that is why, the need to study the Gita.

Comment: These are the best Shlokas.

O yes, 2nd chapter is one of the best portions of the Bhagavad Gita. So, although we have taken a long time, but it was worthwhile.