Shloka 15. Chapter 2

Bhagavad Gita teaches equanimity: Stay steady through joy and sorrow to achieve liberation.

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ ।
समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ॥

yaṁ hi na vyathayanty ete puruṣaṁ puruṣarṣabha
sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīraṁ so 'mṛtatvāya kalpate

Meaning

'O best among men (Arjuna), the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.'

Context

This verse is from Chapter 2, Sankhya Yoga, where Lord Krishna imparts the fundamental principles of Sankhya Yoga to Arjuna, who is confused and morally troubled about fighting in the Kurukshetra war. Arjuna is overwhelmed by emotions, and Lord Krishna advises him on the nature of the soul, duty, and the transient nature of life.

In this particular shloka, Lord Krishna is emphasizing the importance of equanimity and mental fortitude. He advises Arjuna to rise above the dualities of happiness and distress, and to remain steady and undisturbed. Such a person, who is equal in both pleasure and pain, is considered wise and is eligible for liberation (moksha).

Detailed Explanation

In this verse, Krishna addresses Arjuna as 'puruṣarṣabha' (best among men) to encourage him to live up to his potential and to rise above his current state of despair. The shloka stresses the concept of equanimity (sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ) which is the ability to remain balanced and composed regardless of external circumstances.

  • yaṁ hi na vyathayanti: Refers to a person who is not disturbed.
  • ete: These (happiness and distress).
  • puruṣaṁ puruṣarṣabha: The person, O best among men (Arjuna).
  • sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīram: Steady or equanimous in both sorrow and happiness.
  • so 'mṛtatvāya kalpate: That person becomes eligible for liberation (moksha).

Krishna teaches that life's experiences, whether pleasurable or painful, are temporary and transient. By maintaining equanimity, a person can achieve a higher state of consciousness, which is essential for spiritual progress.

Relevance in Today's Context

To understand the relevance of this shloka today, consider an anecdote from a modern professional's life:

Anecdote

Vidya, a project manager in a high-pressure corporate environment, often finds herself stressed by the fluctuations of success and failure in her projects. She is praised when her projects succeed but criticized when they fail. This constant rollercoaster of emotions leaves her feeling drained and unmotivated.

Upon learning about this shloka, Vidya decides to adopt a more balanced approach. She understands that both praise and criticism are temporary and external. She starts focusing on doing her duty to the best of her ability without being overly attached to the outcomes.

Over time, Vidya notices a significant change in her mental state. She becomes more resilient and less affected by external validation or setbacks. Her newfound equanimity not only improves her professional performance but also enhances her overall well-being. She feels more in control and at peace, which positively impacts her relationships and personal life.

The teaching of this shloka is timeless and universally applicable. It encourages us to cultivate a steady mind, unaffected by the highs and lows of life. By embracing equanimity, we can navigate through challenges with greater clarity and achieve inner peace, ultimately progressing on our spiritual path. This principle is crucial in today's fast-paced world, where stress and anxiety are prevalent. By internalizing this wisdom, individuals can lead more balanced, fulfilled, and harmonious lives.

Unique Points from Traditional Commentaries

Here are some unique insights from the traditional commentaries on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Shloka 15 that add depth to the understanding of the shloka beyond the general explanation provided earlier:

  1. Madhusudana Saraswati:
    • Indriyadwara Connection: The experiences of heat and cold, pleasure and pain are mediated through the senses (indriyadwara) and are not directly affecting the true self (Atman). This highlights the indirect and transient nature of these experiences.
    • Titiksha (Forbearance): Emphasizes the importance of tolerance (titiksha) in spiritual practice. One must endure the dualities of life with a steady mind to progress on the path to liberation.
  2. Adi Shankaracharya:
    • Transient Nature of Dualities: Shankaracharya explains that sensations like cold and heat, pleasure and pain are temporary and related to the physical body. The wise person understands their impermanent nature and remains unaffected.
    • Role of the Soul: He stresses that the soul (Atman) is beyond these dualities and remains unaffected by them. Understanding this helps in cultivating equanimity.
  3. Ramanuja:
    • Detachment from Physical Experiences: Ramanuja focuses on the idea that physical sensations are not directly connected to the soul. They are related to the body and mind, which are distinct from the true self.
    • Equanimity in Practice: He elaborates on the need for a balanced approach to both pleasure and pain, seeing them as equal. This mental state is crucial for spiritual progress.
  4. Sridhara Swami:
    • Self-Luminous Soul: Highlights that the soul is self-luminous and independent of the body-mind complex. The experiences of dualities do not touch the true nature of the soul.
    • Ultimate Liberation: Stresses that only those who maintain equanimity in the face of dualities are eligible for liberation (moksha).
  5. Bhaskara:
    • Purusha Concept: Bhaskara interprets 'Purusha' as one who dwells in the body but is distinct from it. This distinction helps in understanding that the soul remains unaffected by bodily experiences.
    • Importance of Steadiness: Emphasizes the need for steadiness and tolerance (titiksha) in achieving liberation. The wise remain unaffected by dualities through their understanding of the self.

Summary of Unique Insights:

  1. Transient Nature of Sensory Experiences: All commentaries agree on the impermanent and indirect nature of physical sensations like heat, cold, pleasure, and pain. These experiences are connected through the senses and do not affect the true self.
  2. Role of Forbearance (Titiksha): The practice of forbearance, enduring life’s dualities without disturbance, is highlighted as essential for spiritual progress and achieving liberation.
  3. Self-Luminous and Independent Soul: The soul is self-luminous, eternal, and distinct from the body-mind complex. Understanding this helps maintain equanimity.
  4. Equanimity as a Prerequisite for Liberation: Maintaining a balanced approach to both pleasure and pain is necessary for spiritual growth and is a prerequisite for attaining moksha.
  5. Detachment from Physical and Mental States: True wisdom involves recognizing the soul’s detachment from physical and mental experiences, leading to a state of inner peace and steadiness.

Conclusion

The traditional commentaries on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Shloka 15 collectively emphasize the transient nature of sensory experiences, the importance of forbearance, and the self-luminous nature of the soul. By understanding these principles and practicing equanimity, one can progress on the path to liberation, remaining unaffected by the dualities of life. These teachings highlight the profound wisdom necessary for spiritual growth and ultimate liberation (moksha).

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Comments

ky3z7
Beautiful breakdown of the shloka and commentaries. Truly enlightening! -Venu

loved the explanation of traditional commentaries! Profound and enlightening. 🌿 -User_sgahmy

Really surprised to read this..My name is Vidya too..I have been in mental pain since yesterday..felt so dejected by the way people around me behave with me without affection care..After I went through the meaning of this sloka,that too the name mentioned as Vidya,I feel Lord Krishna is guiding me..I read Bhagavad Geeta everyday..Totally blessed..Thank you..Jai Shree Krishna -Vidya

Grateful for the positivity and growth I've experienced through Vedadhara. 🙏🏻 -Eshwar R

Excellent rendition ! Awesome pronunciation !! God bless !!! -Pavithra Nair

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