Shloka 14. Chapter 2

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः।

आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत।।

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śhītoṣhṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ

āgamāpāyino ’nityās tāṁs titikṣhasva bhārata

Meaning

O son of Kunti, the contact between the senses and the sense objects gives rise to the experiences of cold and heat, pleasure and pain. These are transient and fleeting; therefore, learn to endure them, O descendant of the Bharata dynasty.

Context

In this verse, Lord Krishna is speaking to Arjuna, who is in a state of confusion and despondency on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjuna is overwhelmed with sorrow and moral dilemmas about fighting in the war, where he would have to confront and potentially kill his own relatives, teachers, and friends.

To alleviate Arjuna's mental turmoil, Krishna explains the nature of the physical and emotional experiences that every human goes through. He emphasizes that sensations such as pleasure and pain, and feelings of hot and cold, are temporary. They come and go and are influenced by the interaction of the senses with external objects. Krishna advises Arjuna to practice tolerance and endurance because these experiences do not last forever.

Detailed Explanation

The verse underscores the transient nature of sensory experiences. According to Krishna, the sensations we perceive through our senses—like heat and cold or happiness and sorrow—are not permanent. They arise from the interaction between the senses and the objects of perception. Because they are temporary, Krishna suggests that one should learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

Krishna uses the term 'mātrā-sparśās,' referring to sensory contacts, and explains that these are responsible for the feelings of cold and heat, and pleasure and pain. By calling these sensations 'āgamāpāyino,' he highlights their nature of coming and going. The term 'anityās' further stresses their impermanence.

Krishna's teaching here is to cultivate endurance, or 'titiksha' This endurance is not just physical but also mental and emotional. By doing so, one can maintain equanimity in the face of changing circumstances and remain focused on their duties and higher goals.

Relevance in Today's Context

In today's fast-paced world, people often find themselves in situations of stress and emotional upheaval, whether due to personal relationships, professional pressures, or social expectations. The teaching of this shloka can be applied to maintain mental peace and stability.

Consider the story of Rina, a young professional working in a high-stress corporate job. She constantly faced tight deadlines, long working hours, and high expectations from her superiors. The pressure often left her feeling anxious and overwhelmed. One day, her mentor shared this particular shloka from the Bhagavad Gita with her.

Taking the advice to heart, Rina began to recognize that the stress and anxiety she felt were transient. She realized that the deadlines and pressures, much like the sensations of heat and cold, would come and go. With this new perspective, she started practicing mindfulness and endurance. She focused on her work without getting emotionally entangled in the temporary highs and lows.

Over time, Rina noticed a significant improvement in her mental well-being. She could handle stressful situations with greater calm and clarity. This not only enhanced her productivity but also her overall satisfaction with her work and life.

In essence, by understanding and applying the teaching of this shloka, one can develop a mindset that allows them to endure temporary discomforts without losing sight of their long-term goals and inner peace.

 

Additional points from traditional commentaries-

  • Even after a woman's husband has passed away, she is still recognized and referred to as his wife, even decades later.
  • The attachment and perceived relationship persist in the mind, even though the physical relationship has ended.
  • The widow's reaction to being referred to as her late husband's wife (her ears perking up) shows the enduring nature of mental and emotional attachments.
  • Relationships and attachments are not merely physical but are deeply rooted in the mind and emotions. The mind maintains these attachments even in the absence of the physical presence of the other person.
  • Persistent attachment affects how individuals perceive and react to references to past relationships, indicating that the mental acknowledgment of a relationship can remain strong despite physical separation or change.
  • Even a knowledgeable person who knows the soul is eternal can still experience worldly attachments and sorrows caused by sensory experiences.
  • Even sensory experiences like cold and heat can lead to attachment and emotional responses such as joy and sorrow.
  • One should endure sensory experiences without reacting with joy or sorrow. This endurance is tied to understanding their transient nature.
  • Suffering (duḥkha) does not originate from the self (ātman) itself but from the interactions between the senses (mātrā) and their objects (sparśa). 
  • The self does not experience suffering directly. The self’s association with the body and senses is what leads to the perception of suffering.
  • Even though the self (ātman) is different from the subtle body (liṅgaśarīra), the experience of suffering (duḥkha) still seems undeniable, as one feels, 'I am suffering.' This leads to the belief that suffering is inherently connected to the self.
  • Experiences of suffering seen in the waking state do not persist in the dream state and vice versa, highlighting the non-continuous nature of sensory experiences.
  • Suffering experienced due to separation or other worldly reasons is like a temporary illusion (svapna iva), reinforcing the idea that these experiences should be endured as they are not truly inherent to the self.
  • Sensory experiences and the resulting actions (karma) are causes of bondage (bandha-hetu-bhūta). When these actions are destroyed, the transient nature of sensory experiences also ceases, suggesting that liberation (mokṣa) involves transcending these temporary interactions.
  • A warrior (kṣatriya), enduring pain from weapon strikes and enemy attacks is part of their duty (dharma).
  • Cold and heat can sometimes be pleasant and sometimes unpleasant, making their nature unpredictable. In contrast, happiness and sorrow have definite natures and do not change in the same way,
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Comments

dk4mp
Such a profound message from the Gita! 🌸 Endure and rise above temporary challenges. 💪 -User_sg3i9k

Timeless wisdom from Lord Krishna on enduring life's ups and downs. 🙏 -Ramakanth

I needed this shloka. Thank you -JHIMLI

So very subtle & deep. Pranam for pointing out the temporary aspect of the senses; transient! -User_sg3j9x

Exquisite teaching. -User_sg5lwq

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Knowledge Bank

Which are the 10 subjects of Srimad Bhagavata?

The ten subjects of Srimad Bhagavata are: 1. Sarga- primary creation. 2. Visarga- secondary creation. 3. Sthana - placement of beings in the various Lokas. 4. Poshana- their sustenance. 5. Uti- desire to act. 6. Manvantara: rule of the Manus. 7.Isanukatha- incarnations. 8. Nirodha- the annihilation of evil. 9. Mukti- liberation.10. Ashraya: Krishna the supreme shelter.

Why is Ahalya called Panchakanya?

Even though Indra seduced her and her husband Gautama Maharshi cursed, she didn’t lose her purity. Indra came disguised as Gautama. She didn’t realize this when she had a relationship with Indra. That is why she is considered as a sacred virgin or one among the pancha kanyas.

Quiz

As per Vastu shastra, who gets the benefit of puja performed in a house ?
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