Gita Study: Class 17


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2. Verse 11 continued

 Highlights of today’s class:

The wise do not grieve

  • In the second half of the verse Krishna tells Arjuna that the wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. And the fact that Arjuna was grieving shows that he was not wise even though he spoke words of seeming wisdom.
  • Krishna as though divides the universal set of all beings into two subsets. One, those that are alive and second, those that are not alive. The sum of these two groups encompasses all beings in the universe. Neither of these two groups deserve grieving on our part. That means, nobody in the universe deserves grieving on our part.
  • A few reasons can be given for why Krishna chose to divide all people into these particular two groups.
    • The immediate cause for Arjuna’s grief was the thought that his near and dear people were going to die if he engaged in the war. Death was the cause.
    • Death is a universally accepted cause for sorrow for anybody. Hence dividing in terms of death seems appropriate.
    • Death is also among the strongest causes of sorrow for anybody. By addressing this most powerful cause, all less powerful causes are implicitly addressed. This logic is called prathama malla nyaya.
    • The topic of self-knowledge which is going to be taught in the Gita is about atma which has no death.
  • Krishna says that the wise people do not grieve for anybody. A wise person is called pandita here which means one who has panda, or self-knowledge.
  • A person of self-knowledge has no confusion with regard to atma and anatma. Therefore he or she does not grieve. Krishna goes on to impart this knowledge of atma and anatma to us in the remainder of the Gita.

Enquiry into the source of sorrow – atma-anatma viveka

  • There can only be two sources of sorrow – myself, atma or a source other than myself, anatma.
  • Logically speaking if atma were to be a source of sorrow, then sorrow would feel natural because it is myself. Is that truly the case or is the source of sorrow other than me? This enquiry into the source of sorrow is also part of atma-anatma-viveka that is taught in Gita.
  • As discussed in class, typically three sources of affliction are seen –
    • aadhyatmika afflictions are centered around the body-mind-sense complex
    • aadhibhoutika afflictions are caused by beings and environment around me
    • aadhidaivika afflictions are caused by forces of nature such as earthquakes.
  • All three above are not in me, the atma. By knowing the nature of atma, we will also understand its relation to body-mind-sense complex, the beings around and the world on the whole. Not knowing the nature of atma will lead to a mixup of atma and anatma which can lead one to sorrow. Knowing the atma-anatma difference will resolve this problem of sorrow.
  • From the standpoint of a practical person who may not view this verse as an atmaanatma viveka statement also, what is said here is relevant. Sorrow does not help the situation. Crying for a person who departed is not going to bring him or her back. In fact in addition to not helping, sorrow could worsen situations.
  • As discussed in the class, there are many notions one has about atma, oneself. In the course of study of Gita they will all be examined and set right if required. We also saw that we have many types of conditioning which makes us entertain certain expectations and behaviors which may be leading us to sorrow. Such conditionings will also be examined during the study.
  • During the discussion on handling situations that are not in our control, reference to the prayer of serenity was made. Below is the text of the prayer-
    • “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

om tat sat


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Surrender Unto The Divine

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