Chapter 2

Sankhya Yoga

(The Philosophy of Wisdom)

1. Sanjaya said: To him who was overcome with pity and sorrow, and whose eyes were flowing with tears, Madhusudhana spake thus:

2. "Whence has come over thee, O Arjuna, this unmanly and shameful dejection which bars the gates of heaven , especially at this critical juncture?

3. "Yield not to feebleness, O Partha, for it does not become thee. Cast off this miserable faint- heart edness, O Parantapa, and arise."

4. Arjuna said: "How shall I, O Madhusudana, with bows and arrows engage Bhishma and Drona in battle, they who are worthy of the deepest reverence?

5. "Far better it is to beg and live on alms than to slay these respected elders. The victory and all the enjoyments resulting from their killing would be bloodstained.

6. "Nor do I know which is better - whether we conquer them or they conquer us; since after killing these sons of Dhritarashtra now arrayed before us, I should not care to live.

7. "My being is paralyzed by feebleness and my mind perplexed about duty; hence I ask Thee and I pray to Thee: Tell me in no uncertain language, what is good for me. I seek refuge in Thee.

8. "Even if I were to win unrivalled monarchy here on earth or lordship over the gods,that would not dispel the anguish that is shriveling up my senses."

9. Sanjayaya said: Thus spake Gudakesha Parantapa to Hrishikesha Govinda, and with the words, "I will not fight," became speechless.

10. O Dhritarashtra, smiling as it were, Hrishikesha spake these words to him stricken thus with anguish, and stationed between the two armies.

11. The Blessed Lord said: "Thou mournest for those who should not be mourned for, and utterest vain words of wisdom. Neither for the living nor for the dead do the Wise grieve.

12. "For never was I not, nor thou, nor these kings; nor will any of us cease to be hereafter.

13. "As the embodied Self 1 passes, in this body, through the stages of childhood, youth, and old age, so does It pass into another body. The Wise One is not deluded by all this.

14. "O Kaunteya, contact of the senses with objects produces sensations of heat and cold, of pleasure and pain. They come and go and are impermanent. Endure these, O Bharata.

15. "That calm man who remains unmoved by pain and pleasure, whom these cannot disturb, alone is able, O greatest of men, to attain immortality.

16. "The unreal never is. The Real never ceases to be. The conclusion about these two is truly perceived by the seers of Truth.

17. "Know that alone to be imperishable which pervades the entire Universe. None can destroy that Immutable Being.

18. "These bodies of the Indweller, Who by Himself is Eternal, Indestructible and Immutable, are all perishable. Fight, therefore, O Bharata.

19. "He who looks at the Atman (Self) as the slayer and he who believes It can be slain are both ignorant. The Atman slays not nor is It slain [when the body is slain].

20. "It is neither born nor does It die; nor, having once been, does It ever cease to be. Unborn, Eternal and Ancient, It is not destroyed when the body is slain.

21. "He who cognizes the Atman as Imperishable, Eternal and Changeless - whom and how can that man slay or cause to be slain?

22. "Even as a man casts off worn-out garments and puts on others that are new, so the Indweller casts off worn-out bodies and enters into others that are new.

23. "Weapons cannot cut It, nor can fire burn It; water cannot wet It, nor can wind wither It.

24. "Beyond all cutting, burning and withering is the Atman - Eternal, All-Pervading, Unchanging, Immovable, Everlasting.

25. "This Atman is said to be unmanifest, incomprehensible, and immutable. Therefore, knowing It to be as such, thou shouldst not grieve.

26. "And if thou thinkest It repeatedly comes into being and dies, even then, O Mahabahu, thou shouldst not grieve.

27. "For to that which is born death is certain and to that which is dead birth is certain; therefore, thou shouldst not grieve over what is inevitable.

28. "All beings are unmanifest before birth, O Bharata, and become unmanifest after death; they are manifest only in the middle. What cause then is there for grief?

29. "One person looks upon the Atman as wondrous, another speaks of It as marvelous, yet another as strange. Though many speak of It, truly none comprehends.

30. "O Bharata, this Indweller in the body of every being is beyond all harm, thou shouldst therefore not grieve for any creature.

31. "Again, considering thine own duty 2 , thou shouldst not shrink from it; for to a Kshatriya there is nothing more welcome than a righteous war.

32. "Happy indeed are the Kshatriyas, O Partha, to whom comes such a war, offering itself unsought, opening the gate to heaven .

33. But if thou refuse to wage this righteous war, then, failing in thy duty and losing thine honor, thou wilt incur sin.

34. "The world will for ever recount the story of thy infamy; and for a man of honor, disgrace is worse than death.

35. "The Maharathas will think that fear made thee withdraw from battle; and thou wilt fall in the esteem of those very ones who earlier held thee high.

36. "And thine enemies, disparaging thy might, will speak slanderous words about thee. What could be more painful?

37. "Slain, thou shalt enter heaven ; victorious, thou shalt inherit the earth; arise therefore, O Kaunteya, resolved to fight.

38. "Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, get ready to fight; thus thou shalt incur no sin.

39. "What has been declared to thee is the Truth according to the Sankhya. Now listen, O Partha, to that (path) which is suitable to your intelligence, practicing which thou canst break through the bondage of karma.

40. "In this path [of Yoga], no effort is wasted nor is there any adverse effect. Even a little of this righteous course protects one from the Great Fear 3 .

41. "The intelligence of those following this path is directed towards a single objective. In those without any spiritual conviction, the intelligence gets scattered and pursues countless ends..

42. "The ignorant, O Partha, revelling in the letter of the Vedas declare that beyond that there is naught else.

43. "Gripped by desires and holding heaven to be their only goal, they utter flowery words of praise for rituals which merely yield pleasure and lordship.

44. "Intent on pleasure and power, with discrimination lost and their minds swept away, they are unable to concentrate on the Supreme Goal.

45. "Arjuna, the Vedas deal with the evolutes of the three Gunas (or the modes of Prakriti ). Transcend thou the three Gunas and free thyself from the pairs of opposites, remaining ever balanced and centered in the Self.

46. "To the enlightened Brahmin, the Vedas are of as much use as a pond when there is everywhere a flood.

47. "To action, alone, thou art entitled and not the fruits thereof. Seek not the fruits of action nor shouldst thou avoid action.

48. "Act thou, O Dhananjaya, renouncing attachments, even-minded in success and failure; verily, such equanimity is called Yoga.

49. "For, motivated action 4 , O Dhananjaya, is far inferior to desireless action; seek thou refuge in equanimity; wretched are those who work for selfish gains.

50. "Endowed with equanimity, one frees oneself in this life from good and evil alike; therefore, devote thyself to Yoga; verily, Yoga is skill in action.

51. "The Wise, imbued with equanimity, renouncing the fruits of action, free themselves from entanglement in the cycle of births and deaths and attain Supreme Bliss.

52. "When thy intelligence transcends delusion, then thou shalt be indifferent to things heard and those yet to be heard.

53. "When thy mind, though distracted by conflicting philosophies and opinions, becomes poised, steadfast and unmoved in concentration, then wilt thou attain Yoga."

54. Arjuna said: "What, O Kesava, is the mark of the man of steadfast Wisdom 5 , steeped in Samadhi? How does he talk, how sit, how move?"

55. The Blessed Lord said: "When a person rejects all the cravings of the mind and is satisfied with the Self alone, then such a one is spoken of as a person of steadfast wisdom.

56. "He whose mind is unruffled by sorrows, who thirsts not for pleasures, who is free from passion, fear and wrath - such a one is called a sage of secure understanding.

57. "He who is totally unattached and, facing both good and bad, neither rejoices nor recoils - such a one is poised in Wisdom .

58. "He who can withdraw his senses from the attractions of the phenomenal world even as the tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell - such is the one with a stable mind.

59. "When a man starves his senses, the objects of the senses are no doubt withdrawn but not necessarily the yearning for them (the objects); however, even the yearning fades away when he beholds the Supreme.

60. "O Kaunteya, turbulent by nature, the senses even of a wise man practicing abstinence, distract his mind.

61. "Therefore, holding the senses and the mind in check, the Yogi should be intent on Me; for he whose senses are under control is secure in understanding.

62. "Dwelling with the mind on sense objects develops attachment; attachment leads to desire, and desire breeds anger;

63. "From anger arises delusion; delusion promotes confusion of memory; confusion of memory generates loss of intelligence; and finally, loss of intelligence leads to complete ruin.

64. "But the self-controlled Yogi, who has weaned his mind away from attractions, though surrounded by sense objects is able to experience tranquility.

65. "In tranquility, all sorrow is destroyed; when the mind gains peace, right discrimination ( Wisdom ) follows.

66. " Wisdom is not for the fickle-minded. Without steadiness of mind there can be no spiritual development, and without spiritual development there can be no peace. And when there is no peace of mind how can there be happiness?

67. "For even one of the roving senses, if the mind yields to it, carries away discrimination as a gale carries away a ship on the waters.

68. "Therefore, O Mahabahu, he alone whose senses are reined in from all sides is the man of Wisdom .

69. "What is night for all beings is for the enlightened one day; and that, which is day to others, to him, who dwells in the Self, night.

70. "Not the desirer of desires attains peace, but he into whom all desires enter as the waters enter into the ocean, which is full to the brim and grounded in stillness.

71. "He attains peace who, conquering desires, lives without the sense of 'I' and 'mine'.

72. "This is the state, O Partha, of the one who rests in Brahman . Having attained that state, he is beyond delusion. He who remains established in that state at the moment of death becomes one with Brahman ."

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman , the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the second chapter, entitled:



1 Atman .
3Of birth and death.
4i.e., action performed with an eye on the fruits thereof.
5Man of steadfast Wisdom - sthitaprajna.