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July - September 2023

Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter II Sloka 37 by Brahmalina Swami Omkarananda

Sloka 37

हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् |
तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चय: || 2.37||

हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं – if you lose your life fighting this war being your duty, you will attain svarga/ deva sariram

जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् – if you win, you will enjoy worldly gain of the kingdom

तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय – therefore rise Arjuna

युद्धाय कृतनिश्चय: – determined to fight

Sri Krishna tells Arjuna – Rise with clarity of mind to do your duty, determined to fight. If you do your duty, you will experience joy. Your apprehension of losing your grandfather and others in the war will settle down with time. Time is the greatest healer.

We may recall what Arjuna said earlier expressing his apprehension:

न चैतद्विद्म: कतरन्नो गरीयो
यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयु: |
यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषाम
स्तेऽवस्थिता: प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्रा: || 2-6||

It is not clear whether they would win, or we would win, even if I do my duty.

यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणय: |
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत् || 1-46||

If the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapons-in- hand, slay me in battle, unresisting and unarmed, that would be better for me.

Sloka 38 – Karma yoga

Sri Krishna earlier said – Arjuna, if you refuse to fight, you will incur paapa (sin), naraka (hell) and infamy, but if you perform your duty of fighting this righteous war, you will get punya – if you win, you get to rule the kingdom or if you lose your life, you will get svargaloka/ deva sarira.

Arjuna wonders – Krishna, is it not paapa to kill one’s grandfather and guru (noble elderly teacher)?

Sri Krishna says – No, you will not incur paapa.

Arjuna speaks from samanya dharma drishti whereas Sri Krishna speaks from vishesha dharma drishti. If there is a clash between vishesha dharma and samanya dharma, choose vishesha dharma. By the application of Utsarga-Apavada Nyaya, specific rule prevails over the general. There are exceptions to every rule. The general rule is not to hurt anyone (ahimsa). But to establish dharma against adharma, a kshatriya has to fight (himsa). This is vishesha dharma.

Every action gives its result (yatha karma tatha phalam) – seen (drishta) and unseen (adrishta) but the timing of fructification is unknown. Earlier karma is what we call daivam. Omission to do karma mandated by sastram (nitya, naimittika) and doing karma prohibited by sastram (nishiddha) will beget paapa.

Now Sri Krishna says: I will teach you the attitude of mind, bearing which one does not beget punya or incur paapa. This is Karma yoga that Sri Krishna begins to teach from this sloka.

सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 2.38||

ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व – (determined to keep a balanced mind) fight this battle

समे कृत्वा – deliberately training the mind to keep equanimity

जयाजयौ (jaya-ajayau)– in victory, defeat/ death

लाभालाभौ (laabha-alaabhau)– in gain, loss

सुखदुःखे – in joys, sorrows

नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि – (doing so) you will not incur paapa (or punya)

Arjuna is faced with the unpleasant duty of fighting against his grandfather and his guru. There are two angles to Arjuna’s state of mind – psychological angle and sastric angle. He is emotionally dependent on his grandfather, Sri Bhishmacharya and his guru, Sri Dronacharya who have been his motivating force. Also, he is not convinced that it will not incur paapa from the sastric angle.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna assures that by karma yoga (attitude of mind) Arjuna will get chitta shuddhi (purity of mind) and moksha

Some of the most important teachings of the Gita:

समे कृत्वा Train the mind to be equanimous. Opposite of samam is vishamam. Raga- dvesha (likes and dislikes) is the main cause of chanchalam (fluctuation of mind). It is important to keep a balanced mind. The right knowledge which makes one free of r a g a – d v e s h a i s c a l l e d s a m a t v a m (equanimity).

जयाजयौ समे कृत्वा  Auto suggest to the mind to do your duty whether you lose or win.

लाभालाभौ समे कृत्वा Do your duty being equanimous to gain and loss.

सुखदुःखे समे कृत्वा – Do your duty equanimous to joys and sorrows

In Arjuna’s context, winning the battle would mean gaining the kingdom and sukham (joy) arising from that. On the contrary, losing the battle would be the opposite.

We should train the mind to do our duty whole- heartedly without being result-oriented or impacted by the pairs of opposites, deliberately avoiding likes and dislikes. We should develop process-oriented attitude of mind and keep up our motivation in this respect.

This should be our determination (निश्चयम् कृत्वा) as said in the earlier sloka #37.

Sloka 39

एषा तेऽभिहिता साङ्ख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां शृणु |
बुद्ध्या युक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि || 2.39||

पार्थ – Hey Arjuna!

शृणु – Listen to me (with concentration of mind)

एषा बुद्धि ते साङ्ख्ये  ऽभिहिता – I told you about this attitude of mind in the middle of our conversation on sankhya ( essence of Upanishads)

योगे तु इमाम् बुद्धि शृणु  – atma jnana prapti upaaya yogyata vishaye – that gives eligibility to acquire knowledge of the self/ in other words, karma yoga which gives chitta shuddhi

बुद्ध्या यया युक्त: – With this attitude

कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि – you can break off the shackles of bondage

This attitude of mind helps reduce extrovertedness, develop sharp intellect, grasp and internalise the subtle teachings of the guru effortlessly and gives result.

Teachings on Sankhya contain the essence of the Upanishads, the direct means to alleviate what cause sorrows, delusion and bondage. To acquire this knowledge one needs maturity. Karma yoga cultivates that maturity. Bhagavan explains karma yoga as samatva buddhi yoga: and upasana yoga as samadhi yoga.

In this sloka, Sri Krishna tells us that the result of karma yoga is freedom from bondage caused by punya/ paapa. Every wilful thought, word and action create punya/ paapa. Punya/ paapa effects joys/ sorrows upon us. Bondage is being impacted by joys and sorrows or also being tensed while performing action.

By practice of karma yoga one becomes eligible for jnana yoga. On acquiring Jnana, one will be relieved from bondage. One should develop the right attitude of mind in performing karma (actions), to avoid impact of result.

We can also recall our learnings in an earlier sloka –

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ |
समदु:खसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते || 2.15||

That firm man to whom pleasure and pain are the same, is eligible for Knowledge of the Self.

कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेच्छतं समाः ।
एवं त्वयि नान्यथेतोऽस्ति न कर्म लिप्यते नरे ॥ Ishvasyopanishad २

न कर्मणा लिप्यते पापकेन – Vedas say that on knowing this, paapa does not stick to a jiva.

Since every wilful thought, word and action create punya/ paapa, it is important for us to remember this saying:

Watch your thoughts, it will become your words;

Watch your words, it will become your actions;

Watch your actions, it will become your habits;

Watch your habits, it will become your character;

Watch your character, it will become your destiny.


Brahmalina Swami Omkarananda