Last time we studied up to verse 2.22 dealing with Krishna’s exposition about the permanent nature of the Soul and the impermanent nature of the physical body wherein the Lord proved it unreasonable to grieve over the process of leaving one body and adopting another.
Continuing the discussion from another angle the Lord in the next three verses reiterates the eternal and changeless character of the soul and proves that grieving for fear of its destruction is unbecoming and improper on the part of Arjuna.
nainam chhindanti shastraani nainam dahati paavakah
na chainam kledayantyaapo na shoshayati maarutah // 2.23 //
Weapons cannot cut It, nor can fire burn It; water cannot wet It, nor can wind dry It.
Here the unseen has been explained by means of the seen to indicate its nature. The changeless Self is explained with the aid of ever changing world which is familiar to Arjuna and others. In the world of change, objects meet their end by means of instruments of destruction like weapons, fire, water and wind.
Arjuna’s grief was based on the assumption that he would be killing the elders and other realtives by striking them with lethal weapons. Hence in order to remove his grief the Lord points out the immortality and formlessness of the soul by pointing out the inability of all the four elements of earth, water, fire and air to destroy it. The body is perishable and possessed of a form; the soul is everlasting and formless. Therefore, the soul can never be destroyed by the elements of earth in the form of weapons or by the elements of water, fire and air and so it is sheer ignorance to lament for it.
acchedyo'yam adaahyo'yam akledyo'shoshya eva cha
nityah sarvagatah sthaanur achalo'yam sanaatanah // 2.24 //
This Self cannot be cut, burnt, wetted or dried up. It is eternal, all-pervading, stable, ancient and immovable.
Continuing the import of the previous verse, The Lord says that if a thing cannot be annihilated by any means of destruction discovered by man such an object must be everlasting. Since the Self is indestructible, It is necessarily everlasting. That which is everlasting or eternal will pervade everywhere. All-pervading indicates that It has only itself all around It and it is unconditioned by anything other than Itself.
That which is eternal and all-pervading must be stable meaning no change can ever happen to It. That which is stable is immovable. Mobility or moving implies the transfer of an object or person from one set of time and place to another set of time and place where they were not there already. Since Self is all-pervading there cannot be any place or period of time where It was not there before. As the Self is unconditioned by the concept of time It is said to be ancient.
Sri Bhagavan explains nature of immortal Self in a variety of ways giving several illustrations in order that the underlying idea can be grasped by everybody.
avyakto'yam achintyo'yam avikaaryo'yam uchyate
tasmaad evam viditwainam naanushochitum arhasi // 2.25 //
The Self is unmanifest, unthinkable and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing it to be as such, you should not grieve.
The Self is not an object of perception. It cannot be perceived by any one of the senses. Therefore, it is unmanifest. The mind can think only about an object perceived by the senses. As the Self cannot be perceived by the senses, It is unthinkable and beyond comprehension.. As the Self is infinite and without any form it cannot undergo any change. Hence It is changeless or immutable.
Arjuna's grief is misplaced as the Self cannot be hurt or slain. Forms may change; things may come and go but that which remains behind them all is for ever. The Lord, therefore, advises Arjuna not to grieve on that account and he should not think that he is the slayer and that the others are slain by him.
IN THE NEXT TWO VERSES THE LORD SHOWS THAT IT IS IMPROPER TO GRIEVE FOR THE SOUL EVEN IF IT IS ASSUMED TO BE SUBJECT TO BIRTH AND DEATH.
atha chainam nityajaatam nityam vaa manyase mritam
tathaapi twam mahaabaaho nainam shochitum arhasi // 2.26 //
But even if you think of it as being perpetually born and perpetually dying, even then, O Mighty Armed (Arjuna), you should not grieve.
Sri Krishna, for the sake of argument, takes up the popular assumption here. Granting that the Self is again and again born whenever a body comes into being and again and again dies whenever the body dies, even then one should not grieve, because birth is inevitable to that which dies and death is inevitable to that which is born. This is the inexorable law of the nature. As such, the occasion that Arjuna faces is not the one for lament.
jaatasya hi dhruvo mrityur dhruvam janma mritasya cha
tasmaad aparihaarye'rthe natwam shochitum arhasi // 2.27 //
Death is sure to happen to that which is born. Birth is sure to happen to that which dies. Birth and death are certainly unavoidable. Therefore you should not grieve over an inevitable occurrence.
Here Krishna continues to view the whole situation from the materialistic angle. Even from this stand point, if life is a constant flow of appearances and disappearances one should not shed tears over the unavoidable.