48: Be steadfast in your duty, O Arjuna, and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called Yoga.
49: O Dhananjaya, rid yourself of all fruitive activities by devotional service, and surrender fully to that consciousness. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.
50: A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for this Yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.
51: The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.
52: When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of delusion, you will become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.
THERE ARE MANY good examples, in the lives of the great devotees of the Lord, of those who became indifferent to the rituals of the Vedas simply by devotional service to the Lord. When a person factually understands Krishna and one’s relationship with Krishna, one naturally becomes completely indifferent to the rituals of fruitive activities, even though he may be an experienced Brahmin. Sri Madhavendra Puri, a great devotee and Acharya in the line of devotees, says: "O Lord, in my prayers three times a day, all glory to You; O, bathing I offer my obeisances unto You; O, demigods! O, forefathers! please excuse me for my inability to offer you my respects. Now wherever I sit, I am able to remember the great descendant of the Yadu dynasty [Krishna], the enemy of Kamsa; and thereby I can get myself freed from all sinful bondage. I think this is sufficient for me."
The Vedic rites and rituals are imperative for the beginning of human life: comprehending all kinds of prayer three times a day, taking a bath early in the morning, offering respects to the forefathers, etc. But when one is fully in Krishna consciousness, and is engaged in His transcendental loving service, one becomes indifferent to all these regulative principles, because he has already attained perfection of life. If one can reach the platform of understanding by service to the Supreme Lord Krishna, he has no longer the duty to execute the different types of penances and sacrifices recommended in revealed scriptures. And, similarly, if one has not understood that the purpose of the Vedas is to reach Krishna, and simply engages in the rituals, then he is uselessly wasting time in such engagements. Persons in Krishna consciousness transcend the limit of Sabdabrahma, or the range of the Vedas and Upanishads.
53: When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the Divine consciousness.
54: Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?
55: The Blessed Lord said: O Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of sense desire which arise of invention, and when his mind finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness.
56: One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear, and anger is called a sage of steady mind.
THE WORD Muni means one who can agitate his mind in various ways for mental speculation, without coming to a factual conclusion. It is said that every Muni has a different angle of vision, and unless one Muni is different in view from another, he cannot be called a Muni in the strict sense of the term. But a sthitadhir Muni, the kind mentioned herein by the Lord, is different from an ordinary Muni. The sthitadhir Muni is always in Krishna consciousness, for he has finished all his business with creative speculation. He is called prasanta nihsesa manorathantaram, or one who has surpassed the stage of mental speculations and has come to the conclusion that Lord Sri Krishna, Vasudeva, is everything. He is called the Muni fixed in mind. Such a fully Krishna conscious person is not at all disturbed by the onslaughts of the threefold miseries: those due to Nature, to other beings, and to the frailties of one’s own body. Such a Muni accepts all miseries as the mercy of the Lord, thinking himself only worthy of more trouble due to his past misdeeds; and sees that his miseries, by the Grace of the Lord, are minimized to the lowest. Similarly, when he is happy he gives credit to the Lord, thinking himself unworthy of that happiness. He realizes that it is due only to the Lord’s Grace that he is in such a comfortable condition, and thus able to render better service to the Lord. And, for the service of the Lord, he is always daring and active, and is not influenced by attachment or detachment. Attachment means accepting things for one’s own sense gratification, and detachment is the absence of such sensual attachment. But one fixed in Krishna consciousness has neither attachment nor detachment, because his life is dedicated in the service of the Lord. Consequently, he is not at all angry even when his attempts are unsuccessful. A Krishna conscious person is always steady in his determination.
57: He who is without affection either for good or evil is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.
THERE IS ALWAYS some upheaval in the material world which may be good or evil. One who is not agitated by such material upheavals, who is without affection for the good or evil, is to be understood as fixed in Krishna consciousness. As long as one is in the material world, there is always the possibility of good and evil because this world is full of duality. But one who is fixed in Krishna consciousness is not affected by good and evil, because he is simply concerned with Krishna, Who is all Good Absolute. Such consciousness in Krishna situates one in a perfect transcendental position called, technically, Samadhi.
58: One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws his limbs within the shell, is to be understood as truly situated in knowledge.
59: The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.
60: The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them.
61: One who restrains his senses and fixes his consciousness upon Me is known as a man of steady intelligence.
62: While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
ONE WHO IS NOT Krishna conscious is subjected to material desires while contemplating the objects of senses. The senses require real engagements, and if they are not engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, they will certainly seek engagement in the service of materialism. In the material world everyone, including Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma—to say nothing of other demigods in the heavenly planets—is subjected to the influence of sense objects; and the only method to get out of this puzzle of material existence is to become Krishna conscious. Lord Shiva once was deep in meditation, but when the beautiful maid Parvati agitated him for sense pleasure, he agreed to the proposal and as a result Kartikeya was born. When Haridas Thakur was a young devotee of the Lord, he was similarly allured by the incarnation of Maya Devi; but Haridas easily passed the test because of his unalloyed devotion to Lord Krishna. A sincere devotee of the Lord learns to hate all material sense enjoyment due to his higher taste for spiritual enjoyment in the association of the Lord. That is the secret of success. One who is not, therefore, in Krishna consciousness, however powerful he may be in controlling the senses by artificial repression, is sure ultimately to fall, for the slightest thought of sense pleasure will drive him to gratify his desires.
63: From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.
64: One who can control his senses by regulated principles, and who is free from attachment and aversion, can obtain the mercy of God.
IT IS ALREADY explained that one may externally control the senses by some artificial process, but unless the senses are engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord, there is every chance of a fall. Although the person in full Krishna consciousness may apparently be on the sensual plane, actually, because of his being Krishna conscious, he has no attachment to, or detachment from, such sensual activities. The Krishna conscious person is concerned only with the satisfaction of Krishna, and nothing else. Therefore he is transcendental to all attachment or detachment. If Krishna wants, the devotee can do anything which is ordinarily undesirable; and if Krishna does not want, he will not do anything which he would have ordinarily done for his own satisfaction. Therefore, to act or not to act is within his control because he acts only under the dictation of Krishna. This consciousness is the causeless mercy of the Lord, which the devotee can achieve in spite of his being attached to the sensual platform.
65: For one who is so situated, the threefold miseries of material life exist no longer; in such a happy state, one’s intelligence is steady.
66: One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind, nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?
67: As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even so one of the senses, in which the mind becomes fixed, can carry away a man’s intelligence.
68: Therefore, O Mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.
69: What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.
THERE ARE TWO CLASSES of intelligent men. The one is intelligent in material activities for sense gratification; and the other is introspective, and awake to the cultivation of self-realization. Activities of the introspective sage, or thoughtful man, are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons remain asleep during such a night due to their ignorance of self-realization. The introspective sage, however, remains alert in that night of the materialistic men. Such sages feel transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture; whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition. The introspective man is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reactions.
70: A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace; and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
71: A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship, and is devoid of false ego—he alone can attain real peace.
72: That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the Kingdom of God.
ONE CAN ATTAIN Krishna consciousness or divine life at once, within a second—or one may not attain such a state of life even after millions of births. It is only a matter of understanding and accepting the fact. Khatvamga Maharaj attained this state of life just a few minutes before his death, by surrendering unto Krishna. Nirvana means ending the process of materialistic life. According to Buddhist philosophy, there is only void after this material life, but The Bhagavad Gita teaches differently. Actual life begins after the completion of this material life. For the gross materialist it is sufficient to know that one has to end this materialistic way of life; but for persons who are spiritually advanced, there is another life after this materialistic one. Therefore, before ending this life, if one fortunately becomes Krishna conscious, certainly he at once attains the stage of Brahman nirvana. There is no difference between the Kingdom of God and the devotional service of the Lord. Since both of them are on the Absolute plane, to be engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord is to have attained the spiritual Kingdom. In the material world there are activities of sense gratification, whereas in the spiritual world there are activities of Krishna consciousness. Therefore, attainment of Krishna consciousness even during this life is immediate attainment of Brahman, and one who is situated in Krishna consciousness has certainly already entered into the Kingdom of God.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur has summarized this Second Chapter of The Bhagavad Gita as being the Contents for the whole text. In The Bhagavad Gita, the subject matters are Karmayoga, Jnanayoga, and Bhaktiyoga. In the Second Chapter, Karmayoga and Jnanayoga have been clearly discussed; and a glimpse of Bhaktiyoga has also been given.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Second Chapter of The Srimad Bhagavad Gita, in the matter of its Contents.
PBG 3: KARMAYOGA
1: ARJUNA SAID: O Janardana, O Kesava, why do You urge me to engage in this ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive work?
THE SUPREME PERSONALITY of Godhead Sri Krishna has very elaborately described the constitution of the soul in the previous chapter, with a view to delivering His intimate friend Arjuna from the ocean of material grief. And the path of realization has been recommended: Buddhiyoga, or Krishna consciousness. Sometimes this Krishna consciousness is misunderstood to be inertia, and one with such a misunderstanding often withdraws to a secluded place to become fully Krishna conscious by chanting the holy Name of Lord Krishna. But without being trained in the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, it is not advisable to chant the holy Name of Krishna in a secluded place, where one may acquire only cheap adoration from the innocent public. Arjuna thought of Krishna consciousness or Buddhiyoga, intelligence in spiritual advancement of knowledge, as something like retirement from active life, the practice of penance and austerity at a secluded place. In other words, he wanted to skillfully avoid the fighting by using Krishna consciousness as an excuse. But as a sincere student, he placed the matter before his Master, and questioned Krishna as to his best course of action. In answer, Lord Krishna elaborately explained Karmayoga, or work in Krishna consciousness, in this Third Chapter.
2: My intelligence is bewildered by Your equivocal instructions. Therefore, please tell me decisively what is most beneficial for me.
IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, as a prelude to The Bhagavad Gita, many different paths were explained, namely Samkhyayoga, Buddhiyoga, controlling the senses by intelligence, work without fruitive desire, the position of the neophyte, etc. This was all presented unsystematically. A more organized outline of the path would be necessary for action and understanding. Arjuna, therefore, wanted to clear up these apparently confusing matters so that any common man could accept them without misinterpretation. Although Krishna had no intention of confusing Arjuna by any jugglery of words, Arjuna could not follow the process of Krishna consciousness—either by inertia or active service. In other words, by his questions he is clearing the path of Krishna consciousness for all students who are serious about understanding the mystery of The Bhagavad Gita.
3: The Blessed Lord said: O sinless Arjuna, I have already explained that there are two classes of men who realize the self. The contemplative are inclined to understand it by empirical philosophical speculation; and the active are inclined to know it by devotional service.
IN THE SECOND CHAPTER, verse thirty-nine, the Lord has explained two kinds of procedure—namely Samkhyayoga and Karmayoga, or Buddhiyoga. In this verse, the Lord explains the same more clearly. Samkhyayoga, or the analytical study of the nature of spirit and matter, is the subject for persons who are inclined to speculate and understand things by experimental knowledge and philosophy. The other class of men work in Krishna consciousness, as is explained in verse sixty-one of the same Second Chapter. The Lord has explained, also, in verse thirty-nine, that by working under the principles of Buddhiyoga, or Krishna consciousness, one can be relieved from the bonds of action, and furthermore there is no flaw in the process. The same principle is more clearly explained in verse sixty-one—that this Buddhiyoga is to depend entirely on the Supreme (or, more specifically, on Krishna)—and in this way all the senses can be brought under control very easily. Therefore, both the Yogas are interdependent, as religion and philosophy. Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism; while philosophy without religion is mental speculation. The ultimate goal is Krishna, because the philosophers who are also sincerely searching after the Absolute Truth come in the end to Krishna consciousness. This is also stated in The Bhagavad Gita. The whole process is to understand the real position of the self in relation to the Superself. The indirect process is philosophical speculation, by which, gradually, one may come to the point of Krishna consciousness; and the other process is by directly connecting with everything in Krishna consciousness. Out of these two, the path of Krishna consciousness is better, because the philosophical process does not purify the senses. Krishna consciousness is itself the purifying process, and by the direct method of devotional service it is simultaneously easy and sublime.
4: Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
THE RENOUNCED ORDER of life can be adopted upon being purified by the discharge of the prescribed form of duties. The prescribed form of duties is laid down just to purify the heart of materialistic men. Without the purifying process, one cannot attain success by abruptly adopting the fourth order of life (Sannyas). According to the empirical philosophers, simply by adopting Sannyas, or retiring from fruitive activities, one at once becomes as good as Narayana, God; but Lord Krishna does not approve this principle. Without purification of heart, Sannyas is simply a disturbance to the social order. On the other hand, if somebody takes to the transcendental service of the Lord, even without discharging his prescribed duties, whatever he may be able to advance in the cause is accepted by the Lord. Salpam api asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat: Even the slight performance of such a principle enables one to overcome great difficulties.
5: All men are forced to act helplessly, according to the impulses born of the modes of material Nature: therefore, nobody can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
THIS IS NOT A QUESTION of embodied life; it is the nature of the soul itself to be always active. The proof is that without the presence of the spirit soul there is no movement of the material body. The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, and therefore it is to be understood that the soul is always active, and cannot stop even for a moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Krishna consciousness; otherwise it will be engaged in the occupations dictated by the illusory energy. In contact with material energy, the spirit soul acquires material modes, and to purify the soul from such affinities it is necessary to engage it in the prescribed duties enjoined in the Shastras, or scriptures. But if the soul is engaged in his natural function of Krishna consciousness, whatever he is able to do is good for him. The Srimad Bhagwatam affirms this: “If somebody takes to Krishna consciousness, even though he may not follow the prescribed duties in the Shastras or execute the devotional service properly, or even if he falls down from the standard, there is no loss or evil for him. And even though he carries out all the injunctions for purification in the Shastras, what does it avail him if he is not Krishna conscious?” So the purifying process is necessary for reaching this point. Sannyas, or any purifying process, is meant for helping one to reach the ultimate goal of becoming Krishna conscious, without which everything is considered a failure.
6: One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
7: On the other hand, he who controls the senses by the mind and engages his active organs in works of devotion, without attachment, is by far superior.
INSTEAD OF BECOMING a pseudo-transcendentalist for the sake of wanton living and sense enjoyment, it is far better to remain in one’s own business and execute the purpose of life, which is to get free from material bondage and enter into the Kingdom of God. The Svarthagati, or goal of self-interest, is to reach Vishnu. The whole Varna and Asrama system is designed to help us reach this goal of life. A householder can also reach this destination by regulated service in Krishna consciousness. For self-realization, one can live a controlled life, as prescribed in the Shastras, and continue carrying out his business without attachment, and that will lead him gradually to the progressive path. Such a sincere person who follows this method is far better situated than the false pretender who adopts show-bottle spiritualism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far better than the charlatan meditator who "works" only for the sake of making a living.
8: Perform your prescribed duty, which is better than not working. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.
9: Work done as a sacrifice for Vishnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one of this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.
SINCE ONE HAS TO WORK even for the simple maintenance of the body, the prescribed duties for a particular social position and quality are so made that that purpose can be fulfilled. Yajna means Lord Vishnu, or sacrificial performances. All sacrificial performances are meant for the satisfaction of Lord Vishnu. The Vedas enjoin: "Yajna vai Vishnu." In other words, the same purpose is served whether you perform prescribed Yajnas or directly serve Lord Vishnu. Krishna consciousness is, therefore, the performance of Yajna as it is prescribed here in this verse. The Varnasram institution also aims at this, satisfying Lord Vishnu. “Varnasrama acarata purusena parah puman Vishnu aradhyate.”
Therefore, one has to work for the satisfaction of Vishnu. Any other work done in this material world will be a cause of bondage, for both good and evil work have their reactions, and any reaction binds the performer. One has only to work in Krishna consciousness, to satisfy Krishna or Vishnu, and while performing such activities one is supposed to be in a liberated stage. This is the great art of doing work, and in the beginning this process requires very good and expert guidance. One should therefore act very diligently, under the expert guidance of a devotee of Lord Krishna, or under the direct instruction of Krishna (under Whom Arjuna had the opportunity to work). Nothing should be performed for sense gratification, but everything should be done for the satisfaction of Krishna. This practice will not only save one from the reactions of work, but will also gradually raise one to the platform of the transcendental loving service of the Lord—which alone can uplift one to the Kingdom of God.