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very essence of this Vedic scripture. The subsequent chapters mere ly build upon the teachings of Krishna in Chapter 2. Hence, I have recently star ted compiling the commentaries by various acaryas, notably Adi Sankara (the Adva ita perspective), Ramanujacarya (Vishishtadvaita), Madhvacarya (Dwaita) and Sril a Prabhupada (Gaudiya Vaishnavism). I listed Adi Sankara first because his commentary on the Gita (and also other Ve dic scriptures) was the first. Other acaryas have used his commentary as the bas is to formulate their own commentaries and in some cases even entirely rejected his basic premises. The pursuit of spiritual knowledge, that we are all undertak ing now, will be greatly facilitated by a critical study of these commentaries. May be, someday, in the not too distant future, we can all become worthy of the Grace of Krishna Himself, a promise that He makes repeatedly in the Bhagavad Git a. So, pasted below, you will find the commentaries of various acaryas on the first verse of Chapter 2. I have then added some of my own thoughts to "synthesize" t he main points. As the Gita Mahatmyam story for chapter 2 teaches us, a study of chapter 2 alone , with full devotion, will lead one to complete realization of Krishna. Given below are the links for the sources for these commentaries. Adi Sankara. http://www.bharatadesam.com/spiritual/bhagavad_gita/bhagavad_gita_sankara_bhashy a_2.php Prabhupada. Other acaryas. http://www.asitis.com/2/1.html http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/Gita/verse-02-01.html
I have pasted Srila Prabhupada's commentary first since we all can readily get t he text. Also, this gives the English transliteration of the verse along with th e simple word-by-word translation. P. S. I urge all of you, if you can, to take the time and memorize these verses and learn to chant them correctly, as we proceed with this exercise. In just th is verse, I have taken the liberty to change some of the "spellings" in the Prab hupada transliteration to help the beginner. I will NOT do this any further. ******************************************************************************** *** Chapter 2: Sankhya Yoga
Chapter 2. Contents of the Gita Summarized (Srila Prabupada) TEXT 1 sanjaya uvaca tam tathaa krupayaavishtam ashru-purnaakulekshanam
visheedantam idam vaakyam uvaaca madhusoodanah SYNONYMS sanjaya uvaca--Sanjaya said; tam--unto Arjuna; tathaa--thus; krupayaa--by compas sion; avistam--overwhelmed; ashru-purna--full of tears; akula--depressed; ikshan am--eyes; visheedantam--lamenting; idam--this; vaakyam--words; uvaaca--said; mad hu-soodanah--the killer of Madhu. TRANSLATION Sanjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of compassion and very sorrowful, his eyes brim ming with tears, Madhusudana, Krsna, spoke the following words. PURPORT Material compassion, lamentation and tears are all signs of ignorance of the rea l self. Compassion for the eternal soul is self-realization. The word "Madhusuda na" is significant in this verse. Lord Krsna killed the demon Madhu, and now Arj una wanted Krsna to kill the demon of misunderstanding that had overtaken him in the discharge of his duty. No one knows where compassion should be applied. Com passion for the dress of a drowning man is senseless. A man fallen in the ocean of nescience cannot be saved simply by rescuing his outward dress--the gross mat erial body. One who does not know this and laments for the outward dress is call ed a sudra, or one who laments unnecessarily. Arjuna was a ksatriya, and this co nduct was not expected from him. Lord Krsna, however, can dissipate the lamentat ion of the ignorant man, and for this purpose the Bhagavad-gita was sung by Him. This chapter instructs us in self-realization by an analytical study of the mat erial body and the spirit soul, as explained by the supreme authority, Lord Sri Krsna. This realization is made possible by working with the fruitive being situ ated in the fixed conception of the real self. Chapter 2 - The Path Of Knowledge Commentary by Sri Adi Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami Gambhirananda Sanjaya said: 2.1 To him who had been thus filled with pity, whose eyes were filled with tears and showed distress, and who was sorrowing, Madhusudana uttered these words. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Vaishnavite acaryas Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya: Nimbaditya Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary Having heard Arjuna's justifications from refraining from the battle due to the fear of receiving sin for the slaying of relatives; Dhritarastra was relieved of the fear that his sons might have returned to the Pandavas their fair share of the kingdom and desired to know what happened next. Sanjaya spoke that Arjunas e yes were brimming with tears, when ones eyes are full of tears ones clear vision is obstructed and thus refers to Arjunas unable to see the situation in the cor rect perspective. By addressing Lord Krishna with the vocative Madhusudana indic ates that just as He destroyed the demon Madhu in times of yore, by descending i n the royal dynasty as a ksatriya He would destroy all the demoniac and evil ele ments which are burdening the Earth.
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya: Visnuswami Sridhara Swami's Commentary What happened next? To answer this the verse states that to him meaning Arjuna w hose eyes were filled with tears in bewilderment, to him Arjuna who was grieving the Supreme Lord Krishna spoke these words. Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya: Ramanuja There is no commentary for this verse. Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya: Madhvacarya There is no commentary for this verse. In the future, if there is no commentary for a verse, I will NOT paste anything, like I have done for this first verse. Synthesis: As you see from the above, the three acaryas from the three main schools of phil osophies offer no commentary for this verse. However, Prabhupada, offers some in teresting insights. Krishna is referred to here as Madhu-soodhana, One who killed the demon Madhu. T hroughout the Gita, we find both Krishna and Arjuna being referred to by differe nt names. Often, there is a very subtle philosophical reason why that name is ch osen as opposed to some other name. Our three great acaryas make no comment beca use, during their times, some these truths were well known. They simply assumed that the student knows this and so chose not to elaborage or comment. It does no t mean it is unimportant and unworthy of comment. Unfortunately, even these "basics" are now lost, as Kaliyuga has been progressin g. Prabhupada, the merciful incarnation of the succession of acaryas, chooses to tell us ignoramous masses what this means. Prabhupada knows the difference betw een 8th and 20th centuries. Adi Sankara, for example, offers no commentaries at all on the Phala Sruthi part of Vishnu Sahastranamam. Why? It is all written in plain simple Sanskrit that anyone with a basic knowledge of Sanskrit can underst and. He leaves to us to figure these things out and chooses instead to comment o n the more important philosophical aspects, such as, for example, the verse Para m Yo Mahat tejah, Parmam yo mahat tapah... from the Bheeshma uvaca section. Prabhupada tells us that Krishna is called Madhusoodhana is to remind us that He can slay demons - in this case not external demons like Madhu but the internal demons that we must fight to realize Krishna completely (as Chapter 2 Gita Mahat myam story promises us). The second and more important point he makes has to do with "tam". Here the pronoun "tam" refers to Arjuna. This is further qualified w ith the adjective "krupayaa aavishtam or with sandhi krupayaavishtam". The word "krupaa" means compassion and "aavishtam" means to fully enter. Arjuna was fille d with tears. It seemed like all the compassion in the world had fully entered A rjuna. He was crying (visheedantam) and grieving over the fact that the great wa r would lead to the killing all those who were near and dear to him and all thos e whom he revered. But, Prabhupada tells us that we must know where to show comp assion. Misplaced compassion is like the compassion for the clothes of a drownin g person. One must show eagerness to rescue the drowning person, not his or her
clothes. And, through this analogy, Prabhupada, as you can see, is also leading the way to a discussion of the false conceptions we have regarding the physical body and the Self - the soul, the atma. The physical body, which is perishable, cannot be confused with the soul, the atma, which is imperishable. After reading the outpouring of Arjuna in Chapter 1, when I read this sloka, I f eel a stunning and sorrowful silence. Sometimes, I even manage to shed a few tea rs. In the last sloka of Chapter 1, Sanjaya tells us that the mighty warrior Arj una, who had never been defeated in any battle (even the one with Lord Shiva), d ropped his bow and arrows (visrujya sa-sharam chaapam), right there in the battl efield (sankhye), and entered (upaavishat) deep into the back (upastha) of his c hariot (ratha) as if he was afraid to face his enemies (rathopastha upaavishat). He was completely overtaken with grief (shoka samvigna manasahaa). Sanjaya con tinues this description in the first verse of Chapter 2. The imagery of the migh t warrior dropping his arms and entering the deep interiors of his chariot, like a coward, is itself stunning. Here Sanjaya adds some more. One is left wonderin g. What happened? Why? Why? Why? Why did Arjuna drop his arms? He cried and lame nted. And then he goes away and disappears into the back of his chariot. It feel s like the calm after a raging storm. One is left with a numb feeling. How did t his happen? Instead of a glorious beginning to a righteous battle (Dharma Yuddha m), with the blowing their respective conches - Panchajanyam by Hrishikesha (Kri shna) and Devadatta by Dhananjaya (Arjuna) - we now see a cessation of war. Ever y one who has assembled in the battlefield is left wondering. What is going on? When you read this sloka, and the previous one, you must read them very very slo wly. Every thing has stopped. The world has stopped. The battle has stopped. The n you will understand the grief of Arjuna and what Arjuna's vishada really means . Then you will understand how the demon of confusion can be slayed. Krishna starts speaking in verse 2 and addresses the grieving Arjuna. Very sincerely Dr. V. Laxmanan April 26, 2010
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