Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 2 (Part-4) Saankhya Yogah- Yoga Of Knowledge


Up to the verse 2.38 we have seen the Lord  establishing the propriety of Arjuna engaging in the war from the point of view  of Sankhya Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge about the soul and the body as also  from the angle of duty of a Kshatriya. In conclusion He advised Arjuna to fight  in a spirit of equanimity. Now Bhagavan Krishna advocates the same theme from  the point of view of Karma Yoga

The  Text


eshaa  te'bhihitaa saankhye buddhir yoge twimaam shrinu
    buddhyaa  yukto yayaa paartha karma bandham prahaasyasi // 2.39 //

What  has been declared to you so far is the wisdom of sankhya. Now listen to the  wisdom of yoga, armed with which, O son of Pritha, you will break through the  bonds of Karma.

Sri  Krishna taught knowledge or Jnana to Arjuna till now.  This is called Sankhya Yoga which is the path  of Vedantic philosophy by which the true nature of the Self and the methods of attaining  Self-Realisation can be comprehended through logic of reasoning.

From  this verse onwards the focus of the Gita in this chapter is to explain the  technique of Karma Yoga having known which one can break through the bonds of  Karma or vasanas.

Let  us see what these two yogas mean in the Bhagavad Gita and what is meant by the  bondage of karma. Yoga means the technique of attaining knowledge or wisdom.

Sankhya  or Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge about the Absolute reality. It teaches  discrimination between the Real and unreal and urges the renunciation of the  unreal. The knowledge of Reality directly destroys ignorance, which is the  cause of birth and death in the relative world and of grief and delusion inevitably  associated with it.

Yoga  or Karmayoga is the path of action. The follower of this path engages in action  without any desire for or attachment to the result of such action. He regards  himself as an instrument of God. It is desire and attachment that create the  subtle impressions in the mind (vasanas) which are the seeds of future  action. Action performed without attachment or care for the result does not  create new karma, but leaves the will free to devote itself to the achievement  of Self-realization. This is the secret of Karma Yoga. What are the bonds of  karma? Merit and demerit, virtue and sin, pain and pleasure and other pairs of  opposites constitute the bondage of all actions performed with a motive.

Sankhyayoga  or the path of knowledge, which directly reveals the true nature of the self,  is meant for very rare seekers, endowed with keen intellect for discrimination  and undaunted will-power for renunciation. But the large majority does not  belong to this category. Hence they should first of all purify their minds,  through the discipline of karmayoga. They will then become fit to follow the  path of knowledge. The pure in heart attain Self-knowledge through the grace of  God.

Arjuna  can qualify for the highest knowledge only through performance of his duty.  Krishna all along adduced various arguments from the Upanishadic,  materialistic, mundane standpoints to persuade him to perform his duty. Now  Krishna describes karmayoga which is the special contribution of the Gita to  the philosophy of life, a user’s manual for every day living.


nehaabhikramanaasho'sti  pratyavaayo na vidyate
    swalpamapyasya  dharmasya traayate mahato bhayaat // 2.40 //

In  this no effort is ever lost and no harm is ever done. Even very little of this  discipline (Dharma) saves a man from the Great Fear.

If  a religious ceremony is left incomplete it is a wasted attempt as the performer  will not derive any benefit like a house left unroofed. Again in the worship  for an object, any imperfection in the process produces positive harm or loss  instead of gain as in the case of sickness non-use of right medicines brings  about adverse results. But it is not so in the case of Karma Yoga where every  action and worship performed without desire brings about immediate purification  of heart and protects one from the cycle of birth and death which is termed  here as the great fear.


vyavasaayaatmikaa  buddhir ekeha kurunandana
    bahushaakhaa  hyanantaashcha buddhayo'vyavasaayinaam // 2.41 //

O  Joy of the Kurus (Arjuna), in this blessed path, there is a concentrated one-pointed  determination.  Scattered and endless are  the thoughts of the irresolute or the undecided.

In  this Karma Yoga, even the highest achievement of Self-realization is possible  because the man works with single-pointed determination with concentrated mind.  Those who perform actions with endless desires for results get their inner  personality disintegrated and dissipated. With the scattered minds they are not  able to apply themselves to the tasks involved and therefore their attempts  invariably end in failure.

Karma  yoga is the path in which the seeker with concentrated resolution strives hard  to reach his goal while in the Karma Kanda, the seeker, to satisfy his unending  desires, performs various rituals as instructed in the Vedas meditating upon  the prescribed Devata. As this process is more desire prompted there is always  an inner agitation.

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