Gita Study: Class 16


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2. Verses 9-11

 Highlights of today’s class:

Arjuna’s attraction to Sannyasa:

  • Having lost all interest in carrying on with the battle, Arjuna felt that a life of a sannyasi was a better option for him. Further he knew that sannyasa was meant exclusively for sreyas and he was interested in gaining sreyas.
  • It is common for a person in whom a yearning for finding answers to the fundamental questions of life arises, to renounce and take to a life of sannyasa, as we see in the life of Buddha and many others.
  • On the other hand, as we shall see later, each time Arjuna asked Krishna a question which suggested that he was interested in taking sannyasa, Krishna replied saying that Karma yoga was a better option for him. Based on this it seems in Krishna’s assessment, Arjuna was not yet ready for a life of sannyasa.
  • Sankaracharya, in his commentary on this topic says, “For all people, when their intellects become clouded with defects such as sorrow (soka) and delusion (moha), naturally they resort to giving up their svadharma and taking up paradharma. Just as Arjuna wished to give up his Kshatriya dharma and take up the dharma of a sannyasi.”
  • Sankaracharya further says, “In such a condition, even if they engage in their svadharma, their actions – be they verbal, mental or physical – are tainted with obsessive desire for results (phalaabhisandhi) and are performed with a strong idea of doership (saahankara). By such actions, samsara – which is characterized by experiences of happiness and sorrow, desirable and undesirable births – continues unabated. Therefore the roots of samsara indeed are sorrow (soka) and delusion (moha).”

Gita – the true remedy for sorrow and delusion:

  • Now a days sorrow is professionally managed with help of psychology. A psychotherapist takes the sad person back in time to a period when certain notions about oneself were picked up, forming a core personality. So the sadness is traced back to the core personality and accounted for and validated as a natural phenomenon.
  • However Vedanta sastra goes a level deeper and questions if one is really subject to sorrow. Only a sad person becomes sad just as an angry person alone becomes angry. The fundamental question is if in fact we are subject to sorrow? Gita gives the answer to this question. This line of inquiry into the nature of one self is called atma vichara.
  • Sankaracharya continuing his commentary says, “Freedom from samsara is attained through self-knowledge alone and by no other means. Such self-knowledge is characterized by knowing oneself to be a non-doer amidst all actions (sarva-karma sanyasa through jnana). In order to impart this self-knowledge to all mankind and thus bless them, Lord Krishna made Arjuna as a pretext and started teaching the Gita.”
  • Sankaracharya further says, “Understanding well the meaning of Gita leads one to the fulfillment of all one’s purusharthas. Therefore I shall endeavor to comment on it in detail.”
  • Interesting to note is that the first verse of teaching in 2.11 starts with “asochyaan” where Krishna tells Arjuna that there is no reason for grief. The last verse of teaching in 18.66 ends with the words, “ma suchah” or “grieve not”. Everything in between is the removal of the reason for grief. Gita shastra indeed is a shastra that removes sorrow, soka and delusion, moha.

Sochya & asochya – is there anything worth grieving for?

  • Krishna starts his teaching in verse 11 telling Arjuna, “You grieve for those who do not deserve to be grieved for and yet speak words of wisdom. The wise do not grieve for the living or for the dead.”
  • sochya is a situation or event or experience that causes sorrow, soka. Sochya is something that deserves grief. Sochya situations could be either universally accepted ones such as the death of a close person or a natural calamity, etc. There could also be personal sochya situations unique to one’s own likes and dislikes.
  • Asochya is a situation that does not cause sorrow. Krishna says here that whatever be the situation, there is no legitimate cause for sorrow. We shall see this in more detail in the next class.

om tat sat


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