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(Chapter-wise Summary)



Shri Krishna tries to remove the impression in Arjuna’s mind  that all these people would be killed by his (Arjuna’s) hands.  He tells him that by the design of the natural laws all these people are already dead; that Arjuna was merely an instrument for their actual death.  Arjuna was bound, as a Kshatriya, to do his righteous duty (Dharma) of fighting and kill the enemy if necessary in order to defeat him. Shri Krishna then explains certain aspects of the Yoga of Knowledge (Jnanayoga) of the Sankhyas.


Shri Krishna explains:


1.  It has been mentioned above and also elsewhere in Dnyaneshwari that the soul is permanent and the body is impermanent.  This impermanence refers to the decay of the body after death.  But most people are not aware that the body constituents themselves are impermanent.  To a person watching a river from the bank the river itself does not appear to change but the water he sees from one moment to another is not the same because of the flow. Similarly, though the body appears the same as it was a moment ago, there is a change in the constituent tissues.  Individual organs are completely renewed over certain time periods as follows: Stomach lining is completely renewed every five days, liver every two months, skin every six weeks. Ninety-eight percent of the atoms of your body are replaced in one year. This non-stop chemical replacement is a sure sign of life.  Once the body dies there is no replacement because there is no life and no metabolism;  there is only decay.

2. All worldly things, concrete or abstract are qualified by three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama in different proportions.  These attributes carry the following characteristics with them.


So far, Shri Krishna talked about the Jnanayoga of the Sankhya philosophy, which recommends meditation for Self-realisation.  Shri Krishna now introduces Swadharma or the code of righteous actions for an individual, as the basis of karmayoga or the path of actions.

Not every seeker however, need lead a hermit’s or an austere life (and meditate) in order to realise the Self.  If his day-to-day behaviour and actions are guided by his own Dharma i.e. Swadharma (Swa = own and dharma = Code of righteous conduct or duty), then it leads to the fulfilment of all desires and removes all sins.  Swadharma should never be given up under any circumstances.  The actions must however be done without desire for fruits thereof (Nishkama Karmayoga), even though they are as prescribed according to Swadhama.  He who is endowed with this attitude of performing his duties without the desire of the fruits thereof  becomes immediately free of all encumbrances (of birth and death).

While acting according to Swadharma, one should not feel ecstasy by happiness nor feel aggrieved by sorrow.  Nor should one think about gains and losses but accept whatever comes to one’s lot.  Actions performed with this attitude of equanimity do not lead to any blemish.


Having so far talked about Jnanayoga of the Sankhyas, and having introduced the idea of swadharma, Shri Krishna gives further advice based on Buddhiyoga i.e. the yoga of intellect (of Karmayogis).  By following this yoga of intellect together with the path of action, one does not miss the worldly pleasures and at the same time, one is also assured of liberation.  The opening of this advice was already made earlier under Path of knowledge.

Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Aranyakas -   Raja and Tama attributes, because they discuss rituals and other exercises for attainment of heaven.

Though Vedas tell many things and suggest many rituals, one should choose only those that are beneficial for him.

[NOTE: A person possesses both mind and intellect.  These are explained later in Ch 13.  For the time being,  we may consider mind,  which is considered as the eleventh organ of the body, to be the place where all the experiences are stored and various thoughts, desires, emotions arise and feelings of pleasure and pain are generated.  Mind links sense organs to the intellect.  Intellect analyses and interprets the information from sense organs, the thoughts, emotions etc. in the light of the experiences stored in the memory and classifies them as pleasant or painful, good or bad, pure or impure etc. It decides which action gives pleasure and which gives pain.  Mind then decides to do or not to do actions.  Thus, the mind and intellect work together in practice and often people do not distinguish between the two.

Discrimination is a quality of the intellect and therefore it is possible to increase the Sattva attribute in a person through the intellect by doing only righteous actions with desirelwess attitude and thus go towards Self-realisation. Meditation stills the mind by silencing the thoughts, emotions, desires etc.  Desireless  mind also leads to desireless intellect which can lead to oneness with the Brahman.
The Jnanayoga of the Sankhyas does not refer to the Sankhya philosophy given in Ch 13].


Though on the surface, the path of action appears to be inferior to the yoga of intellect (Buddhiyoga), actually the latter is achieved only through path of actions with the actions performed with a desireless attitude.  This is because the negation of the actions (by offering them to God) leads naturally to the state of yoga (unity with the Brahman) and steadiness of the mind.  (The term Buddhiyoga seem to have been used interchangeably with Karmayoga).  The stages in which a seeker can attain the state of yoga are as follows:

When it becomes steady, he will reach a state of samadhi, the steady, quiet bliss and only then he will attain the state of yoga.


Now that Shri Krishna has mentioned steadiness of intellect and the state of samadhi associated with it, Arjuna asks three questions:

[NOTE.  Pradnya is the power of deep understanding (intuition or insight) while Buddhi is the faculty by which one analyses using logic and the memory of past knowledge and experiences].
Shri Krishna replies: [NOTE: Both Sthitapradnya and Sthirabuddhi are persons who have attained Self-realisation and are in complete control of their sense organs.  In some interpretations, Sthitapradnya is considered the same as Sthirabuddhi, but others make a subtle difference between the two.  The difference seems to be that a Sthitapradnya has an attitude of equality towards all and also towards happiness and sorrow, while a Sthirabuddhi remains unperturbed in the face of distress, is not lured by pleasure and his mind is free from Desire and Anger. Sthitapradnya seems to be the stage after attaining Sthirabuddhi].


Attaining these states requires control of sense organs.  Shri Krishna explains:

But a person in whose mind the thoughts of Buddhiyoga do not take root, gets entangled in the trap of sense objects.  The intellect of such person is never stable nor does he desire it to be stable.  Because of lack of stability, he cannot attain peace and therefore happiness either.  Instability of mind is the cause for sorrow.  Therefore, it is best to control the sense organs.


A person of perfection, a yogi is ever wakeful towards the Brahman while everyone else is oblivious to it.  On the other hand, he does not bother about the (material) things for which everyone else struggles.  Such a person should be recognised as a great sage, free of attachments.  He is not bothered about whether or not he has achieved the Riddhi-Siddhis (Occult powers).  Satiated with Self-realisation he moves about while remaining in the state of bliss of the Self, bereft of ego and desires.  Recognise him as truly a person of stable insight.  This state is what is called the extreme state of the Brahman that the dispassionate people experience and effortlessly become one with it.  By virtue of this state a man of stable insight does not suffer any disturbance of the mind at the time of physical death and oneness with the Brahman.

[NOTES: The jnanayoga (yoga of knowledge) mentioned above and in the next chapter refers to the Sankhya philosophy supposed to have been propounded by Rishi Kapil (16th century BC). This philosophy of the structure of the universe seems to have been well influenced the thinkers and with some modifications has been accepted by Vedanta philosophers. Rishi Kapil is considered as an avatar of Vishnu therefore it is not surprising that this philosophy finds its place in the Gita (and hence in the Dnyaneshwari).  It may be noted that the concept of avatar is mainly among the followers of Vishnu. Gautam Buddha is also considered  as an avatar of Vishnu but the Busddhists do not like it for they consider Buddha to be like Brahman, the Ultimate, beyond everything.  Many great  persons have been considered as avatars of Vishnu. In contrast avatars of Shiva or Durga or other deities are hardly mentioned anywhere.

Though Gita mentions the path of Jnanayoga¸ detailed guidance about how to follow it has not been given.  What Shri Krishna tells in Dnyaneshwari in this context is:

In this world which pervaded by Maya,  there is a mysterious principle about which all philosophers agree. (2:126). When a man of Knowledge ponders over what is universe etc., matters related to the material world get eliminated and  what remains for him to think about is only that principle which is the Self (or soul).  Having come to a definite conclusion about what is truth and what is untruth, he is oblivious to an impermanent thing like the body.  Careful thinking leads to a conclusion that whatever is impermanent and delusive is inconsequential and what is permanent is fundamental.  He who created this universe is devoid of attributes like colour or form.  He is all-pervading and beyond birth and death. (2:125-135): Gita Shlokas 16,17.

This suggests that Jnanayoga is the yoga of the philosopher and thinker who ponders over what the universe is, who created it, how it is sustained,  mystery of birth, death and purpose  of life, who created it etc. This contemplation may be supported by the study of classical texts such as the Vedas, Upanishads, the six Darshanas viz. Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Karma-mimamsa and Vedanta, the Puranas as well as study of the works of mediaeval and modern philosophers. Such study and discussions with his Guru and other sages can help him to go beyond the visible, material reality to the absolute reality of the Brahman with which he ultimately attains unity.  His Guru may clear some of his doubts and even enhance his insight and intuition by touch, but he has to contemplate by himself and experience also by himself. Readers may have noted that jnanayoga mentioned by Shri Krishna here specifically refers to the Sankhya philosophy which is one of the six Darshanas mentioned above.

Throughout this process, a jnanayogi is expected to practice detachment, dispassion and discernment, not get entangled with worldly pleasures.  Gita warns about the pride  that a seeker may develop from his learning. This pride  can come in the way of his Self-realisation].




CH:  1 / 23  / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18

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Dr V. V. shirvaikar,                                     email: vshirvaikar@yahoo.com
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