Gita series – part 19. Chapter II - Verses– 38 and 39 Krishna continues to encourage Arjuna not to shirk his responsibilities. “Consider victory and defeat, profit and loss and happiness and sorrow on equal footing and get ready for the battle. If you do so, you do not acquire sin (verse 38)”. Having thus made a preliminary introduction to ‘karma yoga’, Krishna then proceeds to explain certain intricacies on this subject in the following verses. This chapter consists of 72 verses. Krishna concludes his introductory remarks by stressing the importance of having a balanced mind. The opposites like happiness and sorrow are not perennial in nature. If one enjoys excessive happiness today, he has to feel the sorrow arising out of excessive dose tomorrow. A typical example is over eating in a party unaware of the imminent stomach disorder. The stomach cannot consume more than what it can. Same is the case with the mind. If one could tame his mind in such a way that it treats the opposites on equal footing, the end result is the much sought after mental peace.

Mental conflicts arise only due to our indulgence in extremities. When we are in a situation of anticipation and ultimately we do not get what we have anticipated, the end result is a serious affliction on mind causing mental distress. Sometimes such distressed state of mind leads to health related issues. The cause for such a situation is desire and anticipation. None of these opposites are permanent in nature and they normally occur in alternate bouts. When we are in happy state, let us enjoy the happiness with an unaffiliated mind and when we are in a miserable situation, here again we have to keep our mind our unaffiliated. In both these situations, you should not allow your mind to get associated with the prevailing situations as the mind alone is responsible for such delusions. The mind should never be allowed to cross its borders. If it does so, the conflict is inevitable. Even if one wants to achieve material prosperity and if the mind is trained to remain unruffled with profit or loss, he is bound to make significant progress in his goal. If he gets demoralized with his loss, his mind loses its potential to make meliorate planning to offset this loss. The even minded man always marches ahead ignoring temporary setbacks to reach his ultimate goal. Krishna’s sayings are applicable, not only for the spiritual pursuers, but for all those who want to achieve something in life. The sermons of Krishna are also meant for B school students as well.

The ultimate success depends on one’s determination and dedication. Krishna having made out the reasoning now proceeds to explain the route for logical execution. The acquired knowledge unless implemented and executed, will not be reflected in the end result. Knowledge should not be treated as secret but should be shared with those who are in need of it. The teachings of Bhagavad Gita would not have been available to us, but for Arjuna seeking the advice of Krishna. Krishna continues to address Arjuna thus; “Oh! Partha! What I have explained to you so far, was on the basis of sankhya. Now, listen to this from the point of view of yoga. You will then become endowed with knowledge and free yourself from the bondage of karma” (verse 39). The sermons of Krishna so far were on the basis of imparting theoretical or analytical knowledge of the Supreme. He is now going to expound the practical side of it. A true master does not stop with the theory alone, but substantiates or demonstrates it with practice. This combination helps the students to understand the subject better. That is why Krishna wants to substantiate his teachings taking pains to explain them from an entirely different angle. ‘Sankhya’ means the highest wisdom or the total wisdom. This mainly deals with 24 or 36 tatwas or principles, the cause of creation. Like the levels of consciousness, wisdom too has many levels.

We have earlier seen that intellect is the highest level of wisdom. This intellect is called as ‘sankhya’. In subsequent chapters we are going to deal with ‘sankhya yoga’ in detail. At this point, let us understand this as the supreme knowledge. After having imparted the highest level of wisdom to Arjuna, Krishna now wants him to understand the supreme wisdom from a different perspective. Krishna simply uses the word ‘yoga’ here. In general yoga means union. Only through yoga alone, the merger of the soul with the Brahman can be achieved. Yoga is a powerful tool to control the senses. The wisdom or ‘sankhya’ is to be implemented through ‘yoga’ to achieve the desired result. Therefore ‘sankhya yoga’ becomes a potential source to realize the Brahman. Since ‘sankhya yoga’ not only dissects and analyzes the knowledge (by negations and affirmations), but also teaches practical applications through experience and exposure and the net effect on one’s karma arising out of actions. (to be continued)