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My friend--I'll call her Inca--is going through a number of personal trials.  Her mother is frail.  Her family's beautiful ancestral home in Bangalore is soon going to be demolished under eminent domain to accommodate a new metro line.  The family is doing its best to fight it or, at least, receive equitable compensation for their loss, but all the travel between the U.S. and India and the courtroom dramas are taking a toll.  And earlier this week, Inca's beloved four-year-old dog Polly went from seemingly healthy one day to dead the next.  Apparently something went horribly wrong with her heart.

Inca's a psychiatrist by training and profession, so she has access to a wealth of coping mechanisms and resources.  And yet, she is more frazzled than I've ever seen her.  This is very difficult to watch.  The day her dog unexpectedly died, we were on the telephone four or five times and talked for hours.  Well, she talked, I mostly listened and attempted to offer comfort.

The next day I received a very sweet e-mail message from Inca thanking me for the TLC.  And then she shared with me her family's ritual for dealing with death.  We are going to do it for Polly tomorrow.  Some of you--Dr. Jitu, Farzana, Sumathi, and Oswald, I'm guessing--are probably already familiar with it.  I think it's beautiful, so last night I asked Inca if I could share it through my blog, and she gave her permission to share it with anyone who might find solace in it.

In her own words:

As I know you are interested in other cultures.  I have attached Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, i don't know if this is a common hindu tradition but in my family we always read it (in sanskrit) when someone dies.  This is what I will do when I go down to the ocean and will also throw some flowers in the ocean (offering of flowers is a very common tradition).

In this version, you have the words in sanskrit, then the english meaning and then a direct translation.  The context is that the warrior prince Arjuna has been screwed out of his kingdom by his cousins and they are now on the battlefield to get it back when he realizes he has to fight his family and teachers and falls apart.  His chariot driver is manifestation of  god as Krishna and this is their conversation.

And then she included the chapter, but before I include it here, I'd like to say that Inca later told me it was written 2500 years ago.  When I read it yesterday, I found it so rich with wisdom. . .more than I could digest in a single reading and suitable to life situations beyond losing one's kingdom or a treasured ancestral home or a favorite pet.  It's the kind of writing one must reread and revisit from time to time to fully take in and, even then, what one gains from it is probably dependent upon the context in which one is reading it.  It makes for a rather long blog post (when I printed it out, it ran to 14 pages), but I hope that doesn't discourage anyone from reading it.  I know the people here in the RedRoom are lovers of words and intelligent, multi-layered thinking, and so I hope you find it worth your while.

So here it is. . .Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad-Gita:

Chapter 2

atha dvitiiyo.adhyaayaH. (saaN^khyayogaH)

Transcendental Knowledge


sa.njaya uvaacha .

ta.n tathaa kR^ipayaavishhTamashrupuurNaakulekshaNam.h .
vishhiidantamida.n vaak{}yamuvaacha madhusuudanaH .. 2\.1..

Sanjaya said: Lord Krishna spoke these words to Arjuna whose eyes were tearful and downcast, and who was overwhelmed with compassion and despair. (2.01) Sanjaya. Him, filled with such compassion and such grief, With eyes tear-dimmed, despondent, in stern words ()

shriibhagavaanuvaacha .

kutastvaa kashmalamida.n vishhame samupasthitam.h .
anaaryajushhTamasvargyamakiirtikaramarjuna .. 2\.2..

The Supreme Lord said: How has the dejection come to you at this juncture? This is not fit for an Aryan (or the people of noble mind and deeds). It is disgraceful, and it does not lead one to heaven, O Arjuna. (2.02) The Driver, Madhusudan, thus addressed: Krishna. How hath this weakness taken thee? Whence springs The inglorious trouble, shameful to the brave, Barring the path of virtue? ()

k{}laibyaM maa sma gamaH paartha naitattvayyupapadyate .
kshudra.n hR^idayadaurbalya.n tyak{}tvottishhTha para.ntapa .. 2\.3..

Do not become a coward, O Arjuna, because it does not befit you. Shake off this weakness of your heart and get up (for the battle), O Arjuna. (2.03) Nay, Arjun! Forbid thyself to feebleness! it mars Thy warrior-name! cast off the coward-fit! Wake! Be thyself! Arise, Scourge of thy Foes! ()

arjuna uvaacha .

kathaM bhiishhmamaha.n saaN^khye droNa.n cha madhusuudana .
ishhubhiH pratiyotsyaami puujaarhaavarisuudana .. 2\.4..

Arjuna said: How shall I strike Bheeshma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship, with arrows in battle, O Krishna? (2.04) Arjuna. How can I, in the battle, shoot with shafts On Bhishma, or on Drona - O thou Chief!- Both worshipful, both honourable men? ()

guruunahatvaa hi mahaanubhaavaan.h
shreyo bhok{}tuM bhaikshyamapiiha loke .
hatvaarthakaamaa.nstu gurunihaiva
bhuJN{}jiiya bhogaan.h rudhirapradigdhaan.h .. 2\.5..

It would be better, indeed, to live on alms in this world than to slay these noble gurus, because, by killing them I would enjoy wealth and pleasures stained with (theirs) blood. (2.05) Better to live on beggar's bread With those we love alive, Than taste their blood in rich feasts spread, And guiltily survive! ()

na chaitadvidmaH kataranno gariiyo yadvaa jayema yadi vaa no jayeyuH . yaaneva hatvaa na jijiivishhaamaH te.avasthitaaH pramukhe dhaartaraashhTraaH .. 2\.6..

Neither do we know which alternative (to beg or to kill) is better for us, nor do we know whether we shall conquer them or they will conquer us. We should not even wish to live after killing the sons of Dhritaraashtra who are standing in front of us. (2.06) Ah! were it worse - who knows?- to be Victor or vanquished here, When those confront us angrily Whose death leaves living drear? ()

pR^ich{}chhaami tvaaM dharmasaMmuuDhachetaaH .
yach{}chhreyaH syaannishchitaM bruuhi tanme
shishhyaste.aha.n shaadhi maa.n tvaaM prapannam.h .. 2\.7..

My heart is overcome by the weakness of pity, and my mind is confused about Dharma. I request You to tell me, decisively, what is better for me. I am Your disciple. Teach me who has taken refuge in You. (2.07)(Dharma may be defined as the eternal law governing, upholding, and supporting the creation and the world order. It also means duty, righteousness, ideal conduct, moral principles, and truth. Adharma is an antonym to Dharma. Expert guidance should be sought during the moment of crisis.) (2.07n) In pity lost, by doubtings tossed, My thoughts - distracted - turn To Thee, the Guide I reverence most, That I may counsel learn: ()

na hi prapashyaami mamaapanudyaad.h
yach{}chhokamuch{}chhoshhaNamindriyaaNaam.h .
avaapya bhuumaavasapat{}namR^iddha.n
raajya.n suraaNaamapi chaadhipatyam.h .. 2\.8..

I do not perceive that gaining an unrivaled and prosperous kingdom on this earth, or even lordship over the gods will remove the sorrow that is drying up my senses. (2.08) I know not what would heal the grief Burned into soul and sense, If I were earth's unchallenged chief - A god - and these gone thence! ()

sa.njaya uvaacha .

evamuk{}tvaa hR^ishhiikesha.n guDaakeshaH para.ntapaH .
na yotsya iti govindamuk{}tvaa tuushhNiiM babhuuva ha .. 2\.9..

Sanjaya said: O King, after speaking like this to Lord Krishna, the mighty Arjuna said to Krishna: I shall not fight, and became silent. (2.09) Sanjaya. So spake Arjuna to the Lord of Hearts, And sighing, "I will not fight!" held silence then. ()

tamuvaacha hR^ishhiikeshaH prahasanniva bhaarata .
senayorubhayormadhye vishhiidantamida.n vachaH .. 2\.10..

O King, Lord Krishna, as if smiling, spoke these words to the despondent Arjuna in the midst of the two armies. (2.10) To whom, with tender smile, (O Bharata!) While the Prince wept despairing 'twixt those hosts, Krishna made answer in divinest verse: ()

shriibhagavaanuvaacha .

ashochyaananvashochastvaM praGYaavaadaa.nshcha bhaashhase .
gataasuunagataasuu.nshcha naanushochanti paNDitaaH .. 2\.11..

The Supreme Lord said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief, and yet speak the words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. (2.11) Krishna. Thou grievest where no grief should be! thou speak'st Words lacking wisdom! for the wise in heart Mourn not for those that live, nor those that die. ()

natvevaaha.n jaatu naasa.n na tva.n neme janaadhipaaH .
na chaiva na bhavishhyaamaH sarve vayamataH param.h .. 2\.12..

There was never a time when I, you, or these kings did not exist; nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future. (2.12) Nor I, nor thou, nor any one of these, Ever was not, nor ever will not be, For ever and for ever afterwards. All, that doth live, lives always! ()

dehino.asminyathaa dehe kaumaara.n yauvana.n jaraa .
tathaa dehaantarapraap{}tirdhiirastatra na muhyati .. 2\.13..

Just as the Atma acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old age body during this life, similarly Atma acquires another body after death. The wise are not deluded by this. (2.13)(Atma or Atman means consciousness, spirit, soul, self, the source of life and the cosmic power behind the body-mind complex. Just as our body exists in space, similarly our thoughts, intellect, emotions, and psyche exist in Atma, the space of consciousness. Atma cannot be perceived by the senses, because, the senses abide in Atma.) (2.13n) To man's frame As there come infancy and youth and age, So come there raisings-up and layings-down Of other and of other life-abodes, Which the wise know, and fear not. ()

maatraasparshaastu kaunteya shiitoshhNasukhaduHkhadaaH .
aagamaapaayino.anityaastaa.nstitikshasva bhaarata .. 2\.14..

The contacts of the senses with the sense objects give rise to the feelings of heat and cold, and pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent. Therefore, (learn to) endure them, O Arjuna. (2.14) This that irks - Thy sense-life, thrilling to the elements - Bringing thee heat and cold, sorrows and joys, 'Tis brief and mutable! Bear with it, Prince! ()

ya.n hi na vyathayantyete purushhaM purushharshhabha .
samaduHkhasukha.n dhiira.n so.amR^itatvaaya kal{}pate .. 2\.15..

Because the calm person, who is not afflicted by these feelings and is steady in pain and pleasure, becomes fit for immortality, O Arjuna. (2.15) As the wise bear. The soul which is not moved, The soul that with a strong and constant calm Takes sorrow and takes joy indifferently, Lives in the life undying! ()

naasato vidyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidyate sataH .
ubhayorapi dR^ishhTo.antastvanayostattvadarshibhiH .. 2\.16..

There is no nonexistence of the Sat (or Atma) and no existence of the Asat. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth. (2.16)(Sat exists at all times -- past, present, and future. Atma is called Sat. Asat is a notion that does not exist at all (like the horn of a rabbit, or the water in a mirage). The one that has a beginning and an end is neither Sat nor Asat. The body is neither Sat nor Asat, or both Sat and Asat, because, it has a temporary existence. Mithya is the one that appears Sat at first sight, but is really Asat. Body, like the universe or Jagat, is called Mithya.) (2.16n) That which is Can never cease to be; that which is not Will not exist. To see this truth of both Is theirs who part essence from accident, Substance from shadow. ()

avinaashi tu tadviddhi yena sarvamida.n tatam.h .
vinaashamavyayasyaasya na kashchitkartumarhati .. 2\.17..

Know That, by which all this (universe) is pervaded, to be indestructible. No one can destroy the indestructible (Atma) . (2.17) Indestructible, Learn thou! the Life is, spreading life through all; It cannot anywhere, by any means, Be anywise diminished, stayed, or changed. ()

antavanta ime dehaa nityasyok{}taaH shariiriNaH .
anaashino.aprameyasya tasmaadyudhyasva bhaarata .. 2\.18..

Bodies of the eternal, imperishable, and incomprehensible soul are said to be perishable. Therefore, fight, O Arjuna. (2.18) But for these fleeting frames which it informs With spirit deathless, endless, infinite, They perish. Let them perish, Prince! and fight! ()

ya ena.n vetti hantaara.n yashchainaM manyate hatam.h
ubhau tau na vijaaniito naaya.n hanti na hanyate .. 2\.19..

The one who thinks that Atma is a slayer, and the one who thinks that Atma is slain, both are ignorant, because Atma neither slays nor is slain. (2.19) He who shall say, "Lo! I have slain a man!" He who shall think, "Lo! I am slain!" those both Know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain! ()

na jaayate mriyate vaa kadaachin.h
naayaM bhuutvaa bhavitaa vaa na bhuuyaH .
ajo nityaH shaashvato.ayaM puraaNo
na hanyate hanyamaane shariire .. 2\.20..

The Atma is neither born nor does it die at any time, nor having been it will cease to exist again. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Atma is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. (2.20) Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never; Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams! Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever; Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems! ()

vedaavinaashina.n nitya.n ya enamajamavyayam.h .
katha.n sa purushhaH paartha ka.n ghaatayati hanti kam.h .. 2\.21..

O Arjuna, how can a person who knows that the Atma is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and imperishable, kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed? (2.21) Who knoweth it exhaustless, self-sustained, Immortal, indestructible, - shall such Say, "I have killed a man, or caused to kill?" ()

vaasaa.nsi jiirNaani yathaa vihaaya
navaani gR^ihNaati naro.aparaaNi .
tathaa shariiraaNi vihaaya jiirNaani
anyaani sa.nyaati navaani dehii .. 2\.22..

Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones, similarly Atma acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22) Nay, but as when one layeth His worn-out robes away, And, taking new ones, sayeth, "These will I wear to-day!" So putteth by the spirit Lightly its garb of flesh, And passeth to inherit A residence afresh. ()

naina.n chhindanti shastraaNi naina.n dahati paavakaH .
na chaina.n k{}ledayantyaapo na shoshhayati maarutaH .. 2\.23..

Weapons do not cut this Atma, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. (2.23) I say to thee weapons reach not the Life; Flame burns it not, waters cannot o'erwhelm, Nor dry winds wither it. ()

ach{}chhedyo.ayamadaahyo.ayamak{}ledyo.ashoshhya eva cha .
nityaH sarvagataH sthaaNurachalo.aya.n sanaatanaH .. 2\.24..

This Atma cannot be cut, burned, wetted, or dried up. It is eternal, all pervading, unchanging, immovable, and primeval. (2.24) Impenetrable, Unentered, unassailed, unharmed, untouched, Immortal, all-arriving, stable, sure, ()

avyak{}to.ayamachintyo.ayamavikaaryo.ayamuchyate .
tasmaadeva.n viditvaina.n naanushochitumarhasi .. 2\.25..

The Atma is said to be unmanifest, unthinkable, and unchanging. Knowing this Atma as such you should not grieve. (2.25) Invisible, ineffable, by word And thought uncompassed, ever all itself, Thus is the Soul declared! How wilt thou, then, - Knowing it so, - grieve when thou shouldst not grieve? ()

atha chaina.n nityajaata.n nitya.n vaa manyase mR^itam.h .
tathaapi tvaM mahaabaaho naiva.n shochitumarhasi .. 2\.26..

If you think that this (body) takes birth and dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna, you should not grieve like this. (2.26) How, if thou hearest that the man new-dead Is, like the man new-born, still living man - One same, existent Spirit - wilt thou weep? ()

jaatasya hi dhruvo mR^ityurdhruva.n janma mR^itasya cha .
tasmaadaparihaarye.arthe na tva.n shochitumarhasi .. 2\.27..

Because, death is certain for the one who is born, and birth is certain for the one who dies. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable. (2.27) The end of birth is death; the end of death Is birth: this is ordained! and mournest thou, Chief of the stalwart arm! for what befalls Which could not otherwise befall? ()

avyak{}taadiini bhuutaani vyak{}tamadhyaani bhaarata .
avyak{}tanidhanaanyeva tatra kaa paridevanaa .. 2\.28..

All beings, O Arjuna, are unmanifest before birth and after death. They are manifest between the birth and the death only. What is there to grieve about? (2.28) The birth Of living things comes unperceived; the death Comes unperceived; between them, beings perceive: What is there sorrowful herein, dear Prince? ()

aashcharyavatpashyati kashchidenam.h
aashcharyavadvadati tathaiva chaanyaH .
aashcharyavach{}chainamanyaH shR^iNoti
shrutvaa.apyena.n veda na chaiva kashchit.h .. 2\.29..

Some look upon this Atma as a wonder, another describes it as wonderful, and others hear of it as a wonder. Even after hearing about it no one actually knows it. (2.29) Wonderful, wistful, to contemplate! Difficult, doubtful, to speak upon! Strange and great for tongue to relate, Mystical hearing for every one! Nor wotteth man this, what a marvel it is, When seeing, and saying, and hearing are done! ()

dehii nityamavadhyo.aya.n dehe sarvasya bhaarata .
tasmaatsarvaaNi bhuutaani na tva.n shochitumarhasi .. 2\.30..

O Arjuna, the Atma that dwells in the body of all (beings) is eternally indestructible. Therefore, you should not mourn for any body. (2.30) This Life within all living things, my Prince! Hides beyond harm; scorn thou to suffer, then, For that which cannot suffer. Do thy part! ()

svadharmamapi chaavekshya na vikampitumarhasi .
dharmyaaddhi yuddhaach{}chhreyo.anyatkshatriyasya na vidyate .. 2\.31..

Considering also your duty as a warrior you should not waver. Because there is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. (2.31) Be mindful of thy name, and tremble not! Nought better can betide a martial soul Than lawful war; ()

yadR^ich{}chhayaa chopapanna.n svargadvaaramapaavR^itam.h .
sukhinaH kshatriyaaH paartha labhante yuddhamiidR^isham.h .. 2\.32..

Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjuna, get such an opportunity for an unsought war that is like an open door to heaven. (2.32) happy the warrior To whom comes joy of battle - comes, as now, Glorious and fair, unsought; opening for him A gateway unto Heav'n. ()

atha chettvamimaM dharmya.n sa.ngraama.n na karishhyasi .
tataH svadharma.n kiirti.n cha hitvaa paapamavaapsyasi .. 2\.33..

If you will not fight this righteous war, then you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation, and incur sin. (2.33) But, if thou shunn'st This honourable field - a Kshattriya - If, knowing thy duty and thy task, thou bidd'st Duty and task go by - that shall be sin! ()

akiirti.n chaapi bhuutaani kathayishhyanti te.avyayaam.h .
saMbhaavitasya chaakiirtirmaraNaadatirichyate .. 2\.34..

People will talk about your disgrace forever. To the honored, dishonor is worse than death. (2.34) And those to come shall speak thee infamy From age to age; but infamy is worse For men of noble blood to bear than death! ()

bhayaadraNaaduparataM ma.nsyante tvaaM mahaarathaaH .
yeshhaa.n cha tvaM bahumato bhuutvaa yaasyasi laaghavam.h .. 2\.35..

The great warriors will think that you have retreated from the battle out of fear. Those who have greatly esteemed you will lose respect for you. (2.35) The chiefs upon their battle-chariots Will deem 'twas fear that drove thee from the fray. Of those who held thee mighty-souled the scorn Thou must abide, ()

avaachyavaadaa.nshcha bahuunvadishhyanti tavaahitaaH .
nindantastava saamarthyaM tato duHkhatara.n nu kim.h .. 2\.36..

Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful than this? (2.36) while all thine enemies Will scatter bitter speech of thee, to mock The valour which thou hadst; what fate could fall More grievously than this? ()

hato vaa praapsyasi svarga.n jitvaa vaa bhokshyase mahiim.h .
tasmaaduttishhTha kaunteya yuddhaaya kR^itanishchayaH .. 2\.37..

You will go to heaven if killed, or you will enjoy the earth if victorious. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjuna. (2.37) Either - being killed - Thou wilt win Swarga's safety, or - alive And victor - thou wilt reign an earthly king. Therefore, arise, thou Son of Kunti! brace Thine arm for conflict, nerve thy heart to meet - ()

sukhaduHkhe same kR^itvaa laabhaalaabhau jayaajayau .
tato yuddhaaya yujyasva naivaM paapamavaapsyasi .. 2\.38..

Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way you will not incur sin. (2.38) As things alike to thee - pleasure or pain, Profit or ruin, victory or defeat: So minded, gird thee to the fight, for so Thou shalt not sin! ()

eshhaa te.abhihitaa saaN^khye buddhiryoge tvimaa.n shR^iNu .
bud.hdhyaa yuk{}to yayaa paartha karmabandhaM prahaasyasi .. 2\.39..

The wisdom of Saamkhya (or the knowledge of the Self) has been imparted to you, O Arjuna. Now listen to the wisdom of Karma-yoga endowed with which you will free yourself from the bondage of Karma. (2.39) Thus far I speak to thee As from the "Sankhya"- unspiritually - Hear now the deeper teaching of the Yog, Which holding, understanding, thou shalt burst Thy Karmabandh, the bondage of wrought deeds. ()

nehaabhikramanaasho.asti pratyavaayo na vidyate .
sval{}pamapyasya dharmasya traayate mahato bhayaat.h .. 2\.40..

In Karma-yoga no effort is ever lost, and there is no harm. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from great fear (of birth and death). (2.40)(Karma-yoga is also referred to as Nishkaama Karma-yoga, Seva, selfless service, Buddhi yoga, yoga of work, science of proper action, and yoga of equanimity. A Karma-yogi works for the Lord as a matter of duty without a selfish desire for the fruits of work, or any attachment to results. The word Karma also means duty, action, deeds, work, or the results of past deeds.) (2.40n) Here shall no end be hindered, no hope marred, No loss be feared: faith - yea, a little faith - Shall save thee from the anguish of thy dread. ()

vyavasaayaatmikaa buddhirekeha kurunandana .
bahushaakhaa hyanantaashcha buddhayo.avyavasaayinaam.h .. 2\.41..

Those who are resolute have only one thought (of Self-realization), but the thoughts of the irresolute are endless and many-branched, O Arjuna. (2.41) Here, Glory of the Kurus! shines one rule - One steadfast rule - while shifting souls have laws Many and hard. ()

yaamimaaM pushhpitaaM vaachaM pravadantyavipashchitaH .
vedavaadarataaH paartha naanyadastiiti vaadinaH .. 2\.42..

The unwise who delight in flowery words (or the chanting of the Vedas without understanding the real meaning) stress Karma-Kaanda, the ritualistic aspect of the Vedas, O Arjuna, and say that there is nothing else (except material enjoyment). (2.42) Specious, but wrongful deem The speech of those ill-taught ones who extol The letter of their Vedas, saying, "This Is all we have, or need;" being weak at heart With wants, seekers of Heaven: which comes - they say - ()

kaamaatmaanaH svargaparaa janmakarmaphalapradaam.h .
kriyaavisheshhabahulaaM bhogaishvaryagatiM prati .. 2\.43..

They prescribe various specific rites for the attainment of pleasure and power to those who are full of desires, and hold the attainment of heaven as the highest goal of life. The rebirth is their fruit of action. (2.43) As "fruit of good deeds done;" promising men Much profit in new births for works of faith; In various rites abounding; following whereon Large merit shall accrue towards wealth and power; ()

bhogaishvaryaprasak{}taanaa.n tayaapahR^itachetasaam.h .
vyavasaayaatmikaa buddhiH samaadhau na vidhiiyate .. 2\.44..

The resolute determination (of Self-realization) is not formed in the minds of those who are attached to pleasure and power; and whose discernment is obscured by such (ritualistic) activities. (2.44) Albeit, who wealth and power do most desire Least fixity of soul have such, least hold On heavenly meditation. ()

traiguNyavishhayaa vedaa nistraiguNyo bhavaarjuna .
nirdvandvo nityasattvastho niryogakshema aatmavaan.h .. 2\.45..

The Vedas deal with the three states or Gunas of mind. Become free from dualities, be ever balanced and unconcerned with the thoughts of acquisition and preservation. Rise above the three Gunas, and be Self-conscious, O Arjuna. (2.45)(Guna means the quality, state, or the property of mind, matter, and the nature. Refer to Chptr 14 for more details on Gunas.) (2.45n) Much these teach, From Veds, concerning the "three qualities;" But thou, be free of the "three qualities," Free of the "pairs of opposites," and free From that sad righteousness which calculates; Self-ruled, Arjuna! simple, satisfied. ()

yaavaanartha udapaane sarvataH saMp{}lutodake .
taavaansarveshhu vedeshhu braahmaNasya vijaanataH .. 2\.46..

To a Self-realized person the Vedas are as useful as a reservoir of water when there is flood water available everywhere. (2.46) Look! like as when a tank pours water forth To suit all needs, so do these Brahmans draw Text for all wants from tank of Holy Writ. ()

karmaNyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshhu kadaachana .
maa karmaphalaheturbhuurmaa te saN^go.astvakarmaNi .. 2\.47..

You have Adhikaara over your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive. You should never be inactive. (2.47)(The word Adhikaara means ability and privilege, prerogative, jurisdiction, discretion, right, preference, choice, rightful claim, authority, control.) (2.47n) But thou, want not! ask not! Find full reward Of doing right in right! Let right deeds be Thy motive, not the fruit which comes from them. And live in action! ()

yogasthaH kuru karmaaNi saN^ga.n tyak{}tvaa dhana.njaya .
sid.hdhyasid.hdhyoH samo bhuutvaa samatva.n yoga uchyate .. 2\.48..

Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning (worry and) attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. The equanimity of mind is called Karma-yoga. (2.48) Labour! Make thine acts Thy piety, casting all self aside, Contemning gain and merit; equable In good or evil: equability Is Yog, is piety! ()

duureNa hyavara.n karma buddhiyogaaddhana.njaya .
buddhau sharaNamanvich{}chha kR^ipaNaaH phalahetavaH .. 2\.49..

Work done with selfish motives is inferior by far to the selfless service or Karma-yoga. Therefore be a Karma-yogi, O Arjuna. Those who seek (to enjoy) the fruits of their work are verily unhappy (because one has no control over the results). (2.49) Yet, the right act Is less, far less, than the right-thinking mind. Seek refuge in thy soul; have there thy heaven! Scorn them that follow virtue for her gifts! ()

buddhiyuk{}to jahaatiiha ubhe sukR^itadushhkR^ite .
tasmaadyogaaya yujyasva yogaH karmasu kaushalam.h .. 2\.50..

A Karma-yogi gets freedom from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Therefore, strive for Karma-yoga. Working to the best of one's abilities without getting attached to the fruits of work is called (Nishkaama) Karma-yoga. (2.50) The mind of pure devotion - even here - Casts equally aside good deeds and bad, Passing above them. Unto pure devotion Devote thyself: with perfect meditation ()

karmajaM buddhiyuk{}taa hi phalaM tyak{}tvaa maniishhiNaH .
janmabandhavinirmuk{}taaH padaM gach{}chhantyanaamayam.h .. 2\.51..

Wise Karma-yogis, possessed with mental poise by renouncing the attachment to the fruits of work, are indeed freed from the bondage of rebirth and attain the blissful divine state. (2.51) Comes perfect act, and the righthearted rise - More certainly because they seek no gain - Forth from the bands of body, step by step, To highest seats of bliss. ()

yadaa te mohakalilaM buddhirvyatitarishhyati .
tadaa gantaasi nirvedaM shrotavyasya shrutasya cha .. 2\.52..

When your intellect will completely pierce the veil of delusion, then you will become indifferent to what has been heard and what is to be heard (from the scriptures). (2.52) When thy firm soul Hath shaken off those tangled oracles Which ignorantly guide, then shall it soar To high neglect of what's denied or said, This way or that way, in doctrinal writ. ()

shrutivipratipannaa te yadaa sthaasyati nishchalaa .
samaadhaavachalaa buddhistadaa yogamavaapsyasi .. 2\.53..

When your intellect, that is confused by the conflicting opinions and the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas, shall stay steady and firm with the Self, then you shall attain Self-realization. (2.53) Troubled no longer by the priestly lore, Safe shall it live, and sure; steadfastly bent On meditation. This is Yog - and Peace! ()

arjuna uvaacha .

sthitapraGYasya kaa bhaashhaa samaadhisthasya keshava .
sthitadhiiH kiM prabhaashheta kimaasiita vrajeta kim.h .. 2\.54..

Arjuna said: O Krishna, what is the mark of a person whose Prajna is steady and merged in superconscious state? How does a person of steady Prajna speak? How does such a person sit and walk? (2.54)(Prajna means consciousness, mind, intellect, judgment, discrimination, and wisdom.) (2.54n) Arjuna. What is his mark who hath that steadfast heart, Confirmed in holy meditation? How Know we his speech, Kesava? Sits he, moves he Like other men? ()

shriibhagavaanuvaacha .

prajahaati yadaa kaamaansarvaanpaartha manogataan.h .
aatmanyevaatmanaa tushhTaH sthitapraGYastadochyate .. 2\.55..

The Supreme Lord said: When one is completely free from all desires of the mind and is satisfied in the Self by the (joy of) Self, then one is called a person of steady Prajna, O Arjuna. (2.55) Krishna. When one, O Pritha's Son!- Abandoning desires which shake the mind - Finds in his soul full comfort for his soul, He hath attained the Yog - that man is such! ()

duHkheshhvanudvignamanaaH sukheshhu vigataspR^ihaH .
viitaraagabhayakrodhaH sthitadhiirmuniruchyate .. 2\.56..

A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear, and anger; such a person is called a sage of steady Prajna. (2.56) In sorrows not dejected, and in joys Not overjoyed; dwelling outside the stress Of passion, fear, and anger; fixed in calms Of lofty contemplation;- such an one Is Muni, is the Sage, the true Recluse! ()

yaH sarvatraanabhis{}nehastattatpraapya shubhaashubham.h .
naabhinandati na dveshhTi tasya praGYaa pratishhThitaa .. 2\.57..

Those who are not attached to anything, who are neither elated by getting desired results nor troubled by undesired results, their Prajna is deemed steady. (2.57) He who to none and nowhere overbound By ties of flesh, takes evil things and good Neither desponding nor exulting, such Bears wisdom's plainest mark. ()

yadaa sa.nharate chaayaM kuurmo.aN^gaaniiva sarvashaH .
indriyaaNiindriyaarthe.abhyastasya praGYaa pratishhThitaa .. 2\.58..

When one can completely withdraw (or restrain) the senses from the sense objects as a tortoise withdraws its limbs (into the shell), then the Prajna of such a person is considered steady. (2.58) He who shall draw As the wise tortoise draws its four feet safe Under its shield, his five frail senses back Under the spirit's buckler from the world Which else assails them, such an one, my Prince! Hath wisdom's mark! ()

vishhayaa vinivartante niraahaarasya dehinaH .
rasavarja.n raso.apyasya para.n dR^ishh{}Tvaa nivartate .. 2\.59..

The desire for sensual pleasures fades away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the craving (for sense enjoyment) remains. The craving also disappears from the one who has seen (or known) the Supreme. (2.59) Things that solicit sense Hold off from the self-governed; nay, it comes, The appetites of him who lives beyond - depart - aroused no more. ()

yatato hyapi kaunteya purushhasya vipashchitaH .
indriyaaNi pramaathiini haranti prasabhaM manaH .. 2\.60..

Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. (2.60) Yet may it chance, O Son of Kunti that a governed mind Shall some time feel the sense-storms sweep, and wrest Strong self-control by the roots. ()

taani sarvaaNi sa.nyamya yuk{}ta aasiita matparaH .
vashe hi yasyendriyaaNi tasya praGYaa pratishhThitaa .. 2\.61..

Having brought the senses under control, one should fix one's mind on the Self. One's Prajna becomes steady whose senses are under control. (2.61) Let him regain His kingdom! let him conquer this, and sit On Me intent. That man alone is wise Who keeps the mastery of himself! ()

dhyaayato vishhayaanpu.nsaH saN^gasteshhuupajaayate .
saN^gaatsa.njaayate kaamaH kaamaatkrodho.abhijaayate .. 2\.62..

One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense objects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects, and anger comes from unfulfilled desires. (2.62) If one Ponders on objects of the sense, there springs Attraction; from attraction grows desire, ()

krodhaadbhavati saMmohaH saMmohaatsmR^itivibhramaH .
smR^itibhra.nshaad.h buddhinaasho buddhinaashaatpraNashyati .. 2\.63..

Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down (from the right path) when reasoning is destroyed. (2.63) Desire flames to fierce passion, passion breeds Recklessness; then the memory - all betrayed - Lets noble purpose go, and saps the mind, Till purpose, mind, and man are all undone. ()

raagadveshhavimuk{}taistu vishhayaanindriyaishcharan.h .
aatmavashyairvidheyaatmaa prasaadamadhigach{}chhati .. 2\.64..

A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects with senses that are under control and free from likes and dislikes, attains tranquillity. (2.64) But, if one deals with objects of the sense Not loving and not hating, making them Serve his free soul, which rests serenely lord, Lo! such a man comes to tranquillity; ()

prasaade sarvaduHkhaanaa.n haanirasyopajaayate .
prasannachetaso hyaashu buddhiH paryavatishhThate .. 2\.65..

All sorrows are destroyed upon attainment of tranquillity. The intellect of such a tranquil person soon becomes completely steady. (2.65) And out of that tranquillity shall rise The end and healing of his earthly pains, Since the will governed sets the soul at peace. ()

naasti buddhirayuk{}tasya na chaayuk{}tasya bhaavanaa .
na chaabhaavayataH shaantirashaantasya kutaH sukham.h .. 2\.66.

There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception to those whose senses are not under control. Without Self-perception there is no peace; and without peace there can be no happiness. (2.66) The soul of the ungoverned is not his, Nor hath he knowledge of himself; which lacked, How grows serenity? and, wanting that, Whence shall he hope for happiness? ()

indriyaaNaaM hi charataaM yanmano.anuvidhiiyate .
tadasya harati praGYaaM vaayurnaavamivaambhasi .. 2\.67..

The mind, when controlled by the roving senses, steals away the Prajna as a storm takes away a boat on the sea from its destination, the spiritual shore. (2.67) The mind That gives itself to follow shows of sense Seeth its helm of wisdom rent away, And, like a ship in waves of whirlwind, drives To wreck and death. ()

tasmaadyasya mahaabaaho nigR^ihiitaani sarvashaH .
indriyaaNiindriyaarthebhyastasya praGYaa pratishhThitaa .. 2\.68..

Therefore, O Arjuna, one's Prajna becomes steady whose senses are completely withdrawn from the sense objects. (2.68) Only with him, great Prince! Whose senses are not swayed by things of sense - Only with him who holds his mastery, Shows wisdom perfect. ()

yaa nishaa sarvabhuutaanaaM tasyaa.n jaagarti sa.nyamii .
yasyaa.n jaagrati bhuutaani saa nishaa pashyato muneH .. 2\.69..

A yogi is aware of the thing (or Atma) about which others are unaware. A sage who sees is unaware of the experience (of sense objects) about which others are aware. (2.69) What is midnight-gloom To unenlightened souls shines wakeful day To his clear gaze; what seems as wakeful day Is known for night, thick night of ignorance, To his true-seeing eyes. Such is the Saint! ()

samudramaapaH pravishanti yadvat.h .
tadvatkaamaa yaM pravishanti sarve
sa shaantimaap{}noti na kaamakaamii .. 2\.70..

One attains peace in whose mind all desires enter without creating any disturbance, as river waters enter the full ocean without creating a disturbance. One who desires material objects is never peaceful. (2.70) And like the ocean, day by day receiving Floods from all lands, which never overflows; Its boundary-line not leaping, and not leaving, Fed by the rivers, but unswelled by those;- So is the perfect one! to his soul's ocean The world of sense pours streams of witchery, They leave him as they find, without commotion, Taking their tribute, but remaining sea. ()

vihaaya kaamaanyaH sarvaanpumaa.nshcharati niHspR^ihaH .
nirmamo nirahaN^kaaraH sa shaantimadhigach{}chhati .. 2\.71..

One who abandons all desires and becomes free from longing and the feeling of 'I' and 'my' attains peace. (2.71) Yea! whoso, shaking off the yoke of flesh Lives lord, not servant, of his lusts; set free From pride, from passion, from the sin of "Self," Toucheth tranquillity! O Pritha's Son! ()

eshhaa braahmii sthitiH paartha nainaaM praapya vimuhyati .
sthitvaasyaamantakaale.api brahmanirvaaNamR^ich{}chhati .. 2\.72..

O Arjuna, this is the Braahmee or superconscious state. Attaining this (state), one is no longer deluded. Gaining this state, even at the end of one's life, a person attains oneness with the Supreme. (2.72) That is the state of Brahm! There rests no dread When that last step is reached! Live where he will, Die when he may, such passeth from all 'plaining, To blest Nirvana, with the Gods, attaining. ()

AUM tatsaditi shriimad.h bhagavad.hgiitaasuupanishhatsu
brahmavidyaayaa.n yogashaastre shriikR^ishhNaarjunasa.nvaade
saaN^khyayogo naama dvitiiyo.adhyaayaH .. 2..

Entitled "Sankhya-Yog,"
Or "The Book of Doctrines."

16 Comment count
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Thanks for the rich infusion of wisdom and compassion

As your dear friend Inca found out, possessing coping mechanisms and employing them are two very different things. The additional TLC is what makes all the difference in the end.

Seeing your inclusion of Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad-Gita in this blog made me smile and realize I have been telling myself for the past year to re-read the book and now I know exactly where to start :-)

author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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Thanks for your comment,

Thanks for your comment, Aberjhani.  Yes, even mental health professionals need a soft place to land.

I hope you come back and discuss Chapter 2 with me when you've had a chance to revisit it and digest.  I found it so rich with meaning and wisdom that I simply couldn't absorb it all in a single read.

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The Blessed Lord said:

You grieve for those who should not be grieved for; yet you spell words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.   (Samkhya yoga chap II)

The way of the world is to classify a man of learning as Pandita; but the lord does not do so. He holds that the one who truly knows the plan and purpose of the universe is a Pandita. Such a one grieves not over the death of his kin any more than the one greives over sunset. Grief is meaningless to the knowing one. Keeping the mind constant in all eventualities is the way of the wise. While speaking like an enlightened one, Arjuna sorrows like an ignorant one. This inconsistency in him is pointed out by the lord.

Dear Ellen, The topic is an abyss!

I am glad you brought it out, Tell Inca to raise like the warrior Arjuna, in times of adversities. May the almighty give her the strength, We pray!

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I figured you'd be familiar

I figured you'd be familiar with this, Sumathi, and that it would speak to you.

Those of us from more Western traditions have much to learn about living and (not) grieving.  We are so trained to think we are in control of things when, in fact, we simply are not.  I like the part of this that spoke about focusing on doing your best in all endeavors, without an eye on the outcome, as the outcome is not in our hands.  We M.B.A.s are paid to take responsibility for outcomes, so this bit of wisdom from the ancients requires a complete reworking of my outlook and attitude.

I will pass on your message to Inca.  She will appreciate your kind words.

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Hi ELL, I am happy to

I am happy to read a blog on 'Geeta' from you. Yes, we do Geeta Patha'[reading geeta] in our house for twelve days after death in the family. I have read it more then thousand times, and every time I find new meanings of slokas.My family distributed 1500 small books of geeta to the people who came for mourning after my father's death. Some of it's fundamentals are hard to understand and nearly impossible to follow.Geeta is the heart of hindu religion,and worlds best spiritual book in my opinion.

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Suddenly I have new insight

Suddenly I have new insight into why you are such a wise, gentle soul, Dr. Jitu.  It's in part because you've spent so much time reading and studying these words, and they have become a part of your cell structure by now.

I've read it only once, so it will take me over a thousand more readings to catch up with you!  :-)  But better to come to this late than never.

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When I was in medical

When I was in medical college, for six years I used to read 'Geeta', atleast two-three chapters before sleep. Then it continued for three more years, a chapter for a day.Now I hardly read it. But I keep it handy at home and clinic.Here is a copy of pocket 'Geeta' we distributed.


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Wow. . .such good

Wow. . .such good discipline!  And you read it to calm yourself down, to clear your mind from the day's studies, to go to sleep with fine thoughts in your head, or why, Dr. Jitu?

It was so thoughtful of you to distribute copies of this at a time when your own heart was broken.  Here, usually the people suffering receive condolences, but it seems your family was trying to bolster others.  Your pocket Gita is like a tourniquet for the soul.

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Yes I read it to calm my

Yes I read it to calm my mind and to avoid wrong strings of thoughts lingering around,before sleep. My friends were following me in reading at Hostel, each had a 'Gita' given by me. You drag me to those nostalgic days Ell. They are precious firends for me even today, Satish, Manoj,Anil,Dinesh,Arvind all are good welknown doctors in their area. There is a krishna temple in my College campus, we sometimes used to chant ' hare krishna- hare rama' for half an hour. That was 30 years back,and place is as it is still today. I will show you when you will come, 30 km from  my house.

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That's a deal, Dr. Jitu! 

That's a deal, Dr. Jitu!  You can take me down memory lane with you. . .show me the hostel, your well-worn Gita, the temple, photos of yourself at that age.  If your doctor friends and your beautiful wife and daughter want to join us, the more, the merrier.  But you will have to forgive me for my very, very basic knowledge of your holy book.  I am 2500 years late in discovering it.

I do the same thing anytime I'm near the town where I attended graduate school.  I find one of my friends from those days, and we make a big deal out of visiting our old classrooms, the places we lived, anything that has meaning to us.  We take photos, and if we run into any old professors or staffers, we stop and chat them up, take more photos, and catch up with each other.  It's important to look back once in a while, give yourself credit for where you've been and how far you've come, and remember the people and the places that helped.

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Ellen, I read it slowly and


I read it slowly and pronounced those words although I don't know what they mean. It’s very interesting. The concepts are the same as the ones I’m used to, but this is the first time I see them in a text. Thank you for uploading it, and thank Inca for providing the knowledge. It's amazing that this text is available to us. I checked Japanese sites and found it also. This is encouraging because I want to read some famous sutras. I’m curious because long ago, priests fought for them and didn’t let people see them.

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I know Inca pulled this

I know Inca pulled this version of it off the Internet, but I'm not sure what site she used.  But she did explain to me that the English-language interpretations can vary slightly, though I'm not sure if they vary in meaningful ways.

Why did the priests of the past keep these from the masses?  Do you know?

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Ellen, sorry to read of your

Ellen, sorry to read of your friend and her misfortune and poor Polly. I also read the text and though it was tough going, it reached into me and comforted-it read like a type of Mantra. The words - 'because death is certain for the one who is born and birth is certain for the one who dies' -those words will stay with me - always.

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Yes, Mary, it's tough

Yes, Mary, it's tough slogging because the translation is somewhat stilted, at least to a modern ear.  It took me about an hour to read. . .even then, I don't think I even began to digest everything, just a few meaningful phrases like the one you point out.

Inca was sounding more resolved when I spoke with her last night.  She's a strong girl, she will get through this.  It's just that a lot is happening at once for her.

Will pass along your good wishes and Sumathi's.  I gave this link to Inca, and she said she really doesn't understand blogging, but that it seems there are some really "neat people" on mine.  Indeed.

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Ellen, I have read this

Ellen, I have read this chapter and the book, but wisdom I see in the smallest things around me. It can be a sentence from anyone here (and you sharing Inca's story and her grief)...

Meanwhile here is Rumi:

"Why cling to one life
till it is soiled and ragged?

The sun dies and dies
squandering a hundred lived
every instant

God has decreed life for you
and He will give
another and another and another

At the twilight, a moon appeared in the sky;
Then it landed on earth to look at me.
Like a hawk stealing a bird at the time of prey;
That moon stole me and rushed back into the sky.
I looked at myself, I did not see me anymore;
For in that moon, my body turned as fine as soul.
The nine spheres disappeared in that moon;
The ship of my existence drowned in that sea.

Now sleeping, now awake, my heart is in constant fervor.
It is a covered saucepan, placed on fire.
O you! who have offered us from a cup a silencing wine;
Each moment a new tale is shouting to be told in silence.
In his wrath there are a hundred kindnesess, in his meanness a hundred generosities;
In his ignorance immeasurable gnosis, silently speaking like the mind.
The words of those whom you have silenced, cannot hear
but those whom you have made unconscious;
I am both silent and fermenting for you like the sea of Aden!"


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This is beautiful, Farzana,

This is beautiful, Farzana, and Rumi is one of my favorite poets.  I think I even mentioned him a few blogs back, in the Proust questionnaire.