Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 2 (Part-2) Saankhya Yogah- Yoga Of Knowledge


naasato  vidyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidyate satah
    ubhayorapi  drishto’ntastwanayos tattwadarshibhih  //  2.16 //

The  unreal has no existence. The Real never ceases to be (never ceases to exist).  Men possessed of the knowledge of the Truth fully know both these.

This  verse indicates that the mental tranquility can accrue only through right  interpretation of life.  Right  interpretation of life involves knowing what is Real and what is un-Real. The  distinction between these two is dealt with here.

The  Real is that which has no change and remains the same in all periods of time -  past, present and future. It always is. The unreal is that which does not  remain the same for two successive moments. Whatever did not exist in the past  or will not exist in the future cannot really exist in the present. That which  is not in the beginning and which will not be in the end, but which seemingly  exists in the present is called un-Real. Any object conditioned by the law pf  cause and effect is not absolutely real because every effect is a change  brought about by a cause and every cause is temporary.

The  life is finite. The body changes every moment, mind evolves and intellect grows  with the passage of time.  Each change in  the body for example from childhood to youth and from youth to old age results  in the constant death to its previous state. Body, mind and intellect  constitute the continuous succession of the changes and all of them cannot be  real. A thing which never remains the same for any given period is un-Real.  The whole of the phenomenal world must be  unreal because no one state in it endures even for a fraction of the time.

But  there must be some real entity behind these changes.  For the changes to take place there must be  some changeless substratum just as a river bed is necessary for the rivers to  flow.  In order to hold together  innumerable experiences at the levels of body, mind and intellect and to give  them a cohesive whole which is called life, a changeless substratum is required  for all.

That  something which remains unchanged all through the changes is The Real and it is  nothing other than the Self in all, the Pure Awareness, and Consciousness. What  is changing must be unreal and what is constant must be real. When the soul is  overpowered by ignorance, the un-Real which is the names and forms of the  phenomenal world, veils the unchanging reality - the Atman, Consciousness  -  which is for ever manifest and which  is not conditioned by causality. This Self is the unchanging Witness of the  changes in the relative world as in the case of the river bed and a flowing  river.

This  Awareness by which one becomes conscious of things in one's life - because of  which one is considered alive, but for which one will have no existence in the  given embodiment - That Spiritual Entity, Eternal, All Pervading, Unborn and  Undying, the One Changeless factor is the Infinite in him.  And this is the Atman, Consciousness which is  the Real.

Therefore  the men of knowledge and wisdom have known the implications of these - the Real  and the Un-Real, the Self and the Non-Self, which in combination is called the  world.

Embedding  this exposition into the practical world, we notice that Arjuna is grieved by  thinking that the warriors will die. So, the Lord explains that the real never  dies and the unreal never exists as it is continuously dying (changing).  Therefore it is not wise to grieve.


avinaashi tu tad viddhi yena  sarvam idam tatam
    vinaasham  avyayasyaasya na kaschit kartum arhati // 2.17 //

Know  `That' to be indestructible, by whom all this is pervaded.  None can cause the destruction of That, the  Imperishable.

‘That’  is Brahman or the unchangeable Consciousness. It is the self of all. It is The  Real that envelops everything that exists. It is the very substance of all the  world of perceptions, the world of names and forms, which we experience.  Brahman is the Witness and the innermost essence of the changeable world.

Different  mud pots have different names and shapes depending upon the things they contain  or the purposes for which they are made use of. Yet all of them are permeated  with the same stuff i.e. mud without which no pot can exist. All the pots come  from mud exist in mud and when they are destroyed all their forms and names  merge back in mud.  So the mud is The  Reality holding all pots together. 

So  too, the world of finite objects and changes is enveloped by The Real, the  Changeless Brahman.  Sri Krishna says  that there is no possibility of this Real ever getting destroyed at all. Destruction  of an object is caused by the loss of its parts as in the case of the body or  by the loss of something belonging to it. As Brahman is without parts and is  One without a second, there is no question of its destruction.

The  immutable Consciousness or Atman in the individual is the same as the all  pervading Consciousness or Brahman in the universe.

The  idea here is that while the soul is imperishable, the body is perishable and is  perishing every day. Nobody can check the process of such destruction. Whether  Arjuna wages the war or withdraws from it, the imperishable cannot be destroyed  and the perishable cannot be saved from destruction.


antavanta  ime dehaa nityasyoktaah shareerinah
    anaashino'prameyasya  tasmaad yudhyaswa bhaarata // 2.18 //

Only  the bodies, of which this eternal, imperishable, and incomprehensible Self is  the indweller, are said to have an end.  Therefore, O descendent of Bharata (Arjuna)  fight.

Arjuna's  grief which deters him from his duty is born of ignorance as to the true nature  of the soul.  Hence Sri Bhagavan's  persisted attempts to illumine him on the subject.

The  physical body may be injured or destroyed by illness or death. The Self is  subject to neither of these. The Self is said to be incomprehensible because it  is not comprehended by the senses, by the mind, or by any other instrument of  knowledge. The self is svatah-siddha, determined by Itself. Being the  knowing Consciousness, It cannot be known by any other instrument. Everything  is known by the Self just as no other light is required the see the light of  the Sun which is self-effulgent.

Here  the earlier advice about the Permanent and Non-Permanent is repeated with an  added call to Arjuna to fight.  Krishna  is not really commanding Arjuna to fight as it is commonly understood. Arjuna, following  his Dharma, had come to the battlefield to fight. He refused to fight on  account of his erroneous perception of the true nature of the soul and the  body. The efforts of the Lord are towards removing this unawareness and leave  him to do what he (Arjuna) considers to be right.

This  is really not a command to fight but a call to Arjuna and through him to all of  us to discard the defeatist mentality and face whole heartedly and sincerely  all the situations in every field of activity at any given moment of existence  in life.


ya  enam vetti hantaaram yashchainam manyate hatam
    ubhau  tau na vijaaneeto naayam hanti na hanyate // 2.19 //

He  who looks on the Self to be the slayer and he who looks on the Self as the  slain - neither of them apprehends correctly. The Self neither slays nor is  slain.

The  Self is a non-doer and as it is immutable; it is neither the agent nor the  object of the act of slaying.  He who  thinks `I slay' or `I am slain' really does not comprehend the true nature of  the Self.  The Self is  indestructible.  It exists in all periods  of time - past, present and future.  It  is The Existence itself i.e.`Sat'.   The physical body undergoes inevitable changes every moment but the Self  is not affected in the least by such changes. When the body is destroyed, the  Self is not. Both of them who think that they have been slain when their bodies  have been slain and those who feel that they are the slayers of the bodies of  others do not know the real nature of the Self.

The  agent of slaying is the ego (aham) and the object of slaying is the body.  Therefore the Self which is different both from the ego and the body is neither  the slayer nor the slain. But by identifying with the body It assumes itself as  the doer of actions performed by the body. If the man does not identify himself  with the body he is not at all doer of any activity. One who holds the soul as  slain is also ignorant because the soul remains unaffected and unchanged. Only  that which is perishable and changeable can be slain. How could the imperishable and unchangeable be slain?

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