Urmilla Chawla, a dedicated student of the Ashram, wrote this adaptation to the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. This chapter contains Lord Krishna’s discourse on Samkhya Yoga, or Yoga of Knowledge. Urmilla has done a wonderful job conveying the Gita’s wisdom in a beautiful form for all to enjoy. 

Sanjaya, the war reporter, tells the blind king, Dhritarashtra, all about the situation at the battlefield. He does this just before the war between the Kauravs and Panduvs begins.

At the 11th hour, Arjun, who was groomed for this war form years, now wavers
He feels aversion having to kill his cousins, uncles, teachers, and other warriors.
He plunges into despondency, is so dejected that his eyes get teary and blurred
It shocked Lord Krishna to see his most able warrior, son of Kunti, so disturbed.

Lord Krishna reproached Arjun and said:

Dejection comes to you at this critical juncture when all is set for the battlefield?
Why, Oh Arjun?  Why you are so disheartened, relenting and inclined to yield?
Arjun, arise and get going, such behavior does not befit warriors and noble men
Such disheartenment only brings disgrace, dishonor and shuts doors to heaven.

Arjun then expressed his feelings to Lord Krishna:

It sickens me to shoot arrows on great souls like Bhishma and Drona here
These are my relatives, my preceptors who deserve my respect and revere.
I rather be a beggar and accept alms than slay my men for land and wealth
Killing them will stain my food and spoils with blood, thus ruining my health.

Concurrently, Arjun admits to Lord Krishna:

To conquer or they conquer us, in this battle; indecisiveness dulls my senses
My heart is overpowered with taint of pity, Oh Lord, strengthen my weaknesses.
What is my Dharma? My right path, my prescribed duty-what exactly should I do?
I am your disciple, and you are my guide- instruct me, I humbly take refuge in you.

Sanjay reported to King Dhritarashtra:

Before Lord Krishna could open his mouth and have his advice lent
Arjun interrupted and commented “I will not fight” and became silent.
And as he sat with his head bowed down and despairingly for a while
Lord Krishna turned towards him and shared his wisdom with a smile.

Lord Krishna then replied:

Arjun dear, changes in the body do not mean changes in the soul
Atma you know is eternal, deathless, immutable, and sum of whole.
In this Universe there is only one Soul, One Atma, which is so pure
So Arjuna, try to grasp this reality, grieve not, have courage to endure.


Lord Krishna then explained the True Knowledge of Self and Physical Body – THE SANKHYA THEORY:

Stop grieving and lamenting for those who are unworthy of grieving
Understand the immortality of the soul, be wise and stop mourning.
In the cycle of life, Atma inhabits a body in childhood, youth and age
After death, Atma takes on a new body and sheds the old, dear sage.


Lord Krishna empathetically told Arjuna to not get magnetized by worldly sense objects which are unlimited in number:

Pairs of opposites are heat and cold, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow,
These dualities are transitory, sensory perceptions which come and go.
Mind well trained and wise is unperturbed and can handle dualities equally
That calm mind can endure dualities and is fit for salvation and immortality.

Then Lord Krishna talked about a man of real vision who sees the fine line between the existent and the non-existent:

The invisible Self (Purusha) is eternal and there is no going and coming to be
The visible physical body (Prakrti) is transitory, changeable, and ceases to be.
The spirit omnipresent, pervading the universe at all the times, is indestructible
The physical bodies subject to birth, growth, decay are mortal and they crumble.

Lord Krishna then assured Arjun:

The Self, the Spirit, the Soul is neither destroyed nor slain, when the body is slain
When the body is killed, the soul is not, so any further discussion is effort in vain.
O Arjuna, once you know that the Atma is eternal, immutable and it is never killed
You will accept this fight for righteousness as call of duty- what God for you willed.

Lord Krishna then explained Death and the Transmigration of the Soul:

Death is the separation of the subtle body (the soul) from the gross (physical) body
Death does not interrupt the journey of the soul as it does the life of the human body
The soul starts to reside in the new body, just like new garment replaces the old outfit
‘Weapons can’t cut the soul; fire can’t burn it; water can’t drown it; and wind can’t dry it.’

Atma being the subtlest element, nothing can cut it or touch it or affect it in any way
Atma is eternal, omnipresent, changeless, immoveable, primeval, and will not decay.
Atma cannot be seen by the eye, but it is all pervading and universal, never destroyed
Atma is never evident, like a rope on which the illusion of the snake is superimposed

Lord Krishna tries to convince Arjun not to grieve:

Arjun, Atma is not subject to any change-knowing its true nature, so why grieve
It is certain that there is death for the born and birth for the dead, so why grieve.
All physical bodies are invisible to our eyes before and after death, so why grieve
Physical bodies appear between birth and death in an illusory form, so why grieve.

Some consider Atma to be a wonder; some speculate on it, others call it sensational
Still few really understand that Atma dwells in every body, in all beings, and is eternal.
Knowing that the Atma is eternally indestructible, why mourn over body frail and fallen
Arjun dear, understand this, fear not and do your duty for which you have been chosen.

Lord Krishna then elaborated on Duty of a warrior according to Kshatrya Dharma and the consequences of not fulfilling his Swadharma:

O Partha, war against external enemies is the duty suggested for the Kshatriya men
The Kshatriya who fights a righteous war acquires grace of God and goes to heaven.
If you step back from your duty you will be warrior defamed and to family bring shame
If you resist a righteous war, you will get dishonor, disgrace and stain on your fair name.

Great warriors will regard you as fearful and fickle and they will lose respect for you
Enemies will be little your ability, defame you, and then lot of pain in you will accrue.
Arjun, arise be determined to fight; to heaven you will go if ever killed in line of duty
And if victorious, you will enjoy the kingdom on earth-either way, reward is its beauty.

Lord Krishna then explains the science of Karma Yoga, or Selfless action:

Oh! Son of Kunti, consider this fight for right to be your selfless action called “Seva”
When you perform a selfless act for humanity, your Karma bondage will disappear
For karma yogis, no selfless action for the good of others or sacrifice goes waste
Karma yogis work selflessly with love for God and with no fruits of action to taste.

On the other hand, the misguided and ignorant one who delight in the Vedic chants
Perform special fast, rites and prayers only for the attainment of worldly enjoyments.
Overpowered and dominated by material and worldly desires, their efforts go in vain
These people achieve no salvation and in this world, they are born again and again.

If self-realization is the real goal of life, do all work and sacrifices with true devotion
Self-realization is not possible for one propelled by getting immediate gratification.
Break away from worldly passions, free from pairs of opposites and dualities remain
Be calm in mind; perform actions firmly, fixed in duty with no fruits of actions to gain.

Lord Krishna further elaborated to the Theory and Practice of Karma Yoga:

Arjun, a karma yogi, when doing his duty, only has control on his mind and body
Karma yogi expects no fruits for his actions, just has faith in the Supreme Reality.
Never give up and be inactive, just keep working quietly to the best of your ability
Selfless services done brings karma yogi, a sense of equanimity and tranquility.

Be it success or failure, fear not Arjun, you just stay steadfast in God
Surrender all your actions to God, do your duty, stop focusing on reward.
Work done with selfish motives is considered inferior to selfless service
Those who work hard only to enjoy fruits of labor, bliss they don’t experience.

Endowed with wisdom, use your intellect to be a Karma yogi
Whatever work you do, do it skillfully, lovingly, and selflessly.
Karam Yogi who is firm and resigned from all fruits of action
Is surely released from bondage of rebirth and attains salvation.

Once your intellect has learnt to differentiate the self from the non-self
Your attitude to Vedic scriptures and rituals will then neutralize by itself.
When your understanding of various scriptures happens and is clarified
You will concentrate on the Supreme Being and become self-realized.

By abstaining from sense enjoyments, multitude of desires become dormant
But some cravings for worldly pleasures remain subtle mental impressions.
These subtle cravings sometimes erupt again when unguarded and unseen
However, they also disappear when there is unity with the Supreme Being.

Arjun then questions Lord Krishna:

What is the mark of a wise man (sthhitaprajan) with steady thoughts on God?
How does the man submerged in the super-conscious state talk, sit and walk?

Replied Lord Krishna:

An enlightened sage is the one who is unperturbed in adversity
Is detached and has conquered fear, hatred and anger completely
Wise is he, who does his duty and is detached from everything
Is a peaceful soul, no joy, no sorrow, and to results doesn’t cling

Self-realized person, like a sage has an intellect sharp and steady
His senses are well tamed and not stirred by temptations so worldly
Like a tortoise, who in time of danger retreats his limbs and claws
A self-realized man of firm convictions, all his senses he withdraws

Lord Krishna then spelled out the dangers of Unrestrained Senses:

Even though a person strives very hard to control his mind and many senses
O’Arjun, one has to always keep vigilance on worldly “Maya’s” influences
Even the sage can be venerable to the power of the senses and get unsteady
By mind absorbed in Me, restraining the senses, for self realization one is ready

Lord Krishna then reflected on Transcendental Knowledge:

When a man dwells on sense objects, he gets attached to worldly things
From attachment sprouts desires, from unfulfilled desires angers springs.
From anger arises delusion, what is right what is wrong, unable to reason
With loss of mind and loss of memory a man gravitates towards destruction.

Repeatedly Lord Krishna talks of attainment of Peace and Happiness through sense control and knowledge:

A disciplined person enjoys sense-objects with command on his senses intense
Therefore gets not attached, has no mental agitation and attains peace immense
Tranquility destroys all delusions and sorrows, intellect gaining lots of steadiness
Attaining unity with the Atma,-the Supreme Being thus experiencing happiness.

In contrast, the undisciplined mind has no focus, no peace, only unhappiness:

The mind gripped by roving senses, with no hold on reins misleads the intellect
Just like a storm that sways the boat away from the course it had originally set.
Therefore, O’ Arjuna, one who is knowledgeable and established in steady wisdom
Is the one who has truly withdrawn his mind and senses from this worldly kingdom.

When others sleep, a yogi, the person of self-restraint is always alert and awake
When others dream in the illusory world, a yogi won’t let temptations overtake.
When all desires vanish, he attains tranquility without any mental commotion
Like gently merging of the river waters into a full ocean, creating no agitation.

This then is the super conscious state of mind, O Arjuna:

He is the one who attains peace for whom all worldly desires and longings cease
One who has no sense of ‘me’ or ‘mine’ or egotism, he proceeds towards peace.
He who is established in this divine state, with no ego even at the hour of death
Surely attains Supreme Bliss and that is the very goal of life up to one’s last breath.

3 Responses to “Bhagavad Gita, 2nd Chapter Poetry”

  1. Jyoti A Says:

    Urmil ji I really enjoyed reading this poetry.

    awaiting eagerly for the the 3rd chapter


  2. Zion Butterfly Says:

    This was really captivating. It was the first time I understood Atma as the Holy Spirit spoken of in the Bible. I read it more like prose than poetry. I think I’ll read it a few more times to see what other learnings are there for me.

  3. Arden Says:

    Thank you! I actually just read this chapter at home this morning and it was so helpful to read it again, with a new translation. Really well done. I hope there will be more!

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