Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lecture (Chapter) 2: Of the Nature of the Soul, and Speculative Doctrines.

Krĕĕshnă beholding him thus influenced by compunction, his eyes overflowing with a flood of tears, and his heart oppressed with deep affliction, addressed him in the following words:


“Whence, O Ărjŏŏn, cometh unto thee, thus standing in the field of battle, this folly and unmanly weakness? It is disgraceful, contrary to duty (7), and the foundation of dishonour.

(7 Contrary to duty.—Contrary to the duty of a soldier.)

Yield not thus to unmanliness, for it ill becometh one like thee. Abandon this despicable weakness of thy heart, and stand up.”


“How, O Krĕĕshnă, shall I resolve to fight with my arrows in the field against such as Bhēēshmă and Drōn, who, of all men, are most worthy of my respect? I would rather beg my bread about the world, than be the murderer of my preceptors, to whom such awful reverence is due. Should I destroy such friends as these, I should partake of possessions, wealth, and pleasures, polluted with their blood. We know not whether it would be better that we should defeat them, or they us; for those, whom having killed, I should not wish to live, are even the sons and people of Dhrĕĕtărāshtră who are here drawn up before us. My compassionate nature is overcome by the dread of sin.

Tell me truly what may be best for me to do. I am thy disciple, wherefore instruct me in my duty, who am under thy tuition; for my understanding is confounded by the dictates of my duty (8),

(8 By the dictates of my duty.—The duty of a soldier, in opposition to the dictates of the general moral duties.)

and I see nothing that may assuage the grief which drieth up my faculties, although I were to obtain a kingdom without a rival upon earth, or dominion over the hosts of heaven.”

Ărjŏŏn having thus spoken to Krĕĕshnă, and declared that he would not fight, was silent. Krĕĕshnă smiling, addressed the afflicted prince, standing in the midst of the two armies, in the following words:


“Thou grievest for those who are unworthy to be lamented, whilst thy sentiments are those of the wise men (9).

(9 The wise men.—Păndĕĕts, or expounders of the law; or in a more general sense, such as by meditation have attained that degree of perfection which is called Gnān, or inspired wisdom.)

The wise neither grieve for the dead nor for the living. I myself never was not, nor thou, nor all the princes of the earth; nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be. As the soul in this mortal frame findeth infancy, youth, and old age; so, in some future frame, will it find the like. One who is confirmed in this belief, is not disturbed by any thing that may come to pass. The sensibility of the faculties giveth heat and cold, pleasure and pain; which come and go, and are transient and inconstant. Bear them with patience, O son of Bhărăt; for the wise man, whom these disturb not, and to whom pain and pleasure are the same, is formed for immortality. A thing imaginary hath no existence, whilst that which is true is a stranger to non-entity. By those who look into the principles of things, the design of each is seen. Learn that he by whom all things were formed is incorruptible, and that no one is able to effect the destruction of this thing which is inexhaustible. These bodies, which envelope the souls which inhabit them, which are eternal, incorruptible, and surpassing all conception, are declared to be finite beings; wherefore, O Ărjŏŏn, resolve to fight. The man who believeth that it is the soul which killeth, and he who thinketh that the soul may be destroyed, are both alike deceived; for it neither killeth, nor is it killed. It is not a thing of which a man may say, it hath been, it is about to be, or is to be hereafter; for it is a thing without birth; it is ancient, constant, and eternal, and is not to be destroyed in this its mortal frame. How can the man, who believeth that this thing is incorruptible, eternal, inexhaustible, and without birth, think that he can either kill or cause it to be killed? As a man throweth away old garments, and putteth on new, even so the soul, having quitted its old mortal frames, entereth into others which are new. The weapon divideth it not, the fire burneth it not, the water corrupteth it not, the wind drieth it not away; for it is indivisible, inconsumable, incorruptible, and is not to be dried away: it is eternal, universal, permanent, immoveable; it is invisible, inconceivable, and unalterable; therefore, believing it to be thus, thou shouldst not grieve. But whether thou believest it of eternal birth and duration, or that it dieth with the body, still thou hast no cause to lament it. Death is certain to all things which are subject to birth, and regeneration to all things which are mortal; wherefore it doth not behove thee to grieve about that which is inevitable. The former state of beings is unknown; the middle state is evident, and their future state is not to be discovered. Why then shouldst thou trouble thyself about such things as these? Some regard the soul as a wonder, whilst some speak, and others hear of it with astonishment; but no one knoweth it, although he may have heard it described. This spirit being never to be destroyed in the mortal frame which it inhabiteth, it is unworthy for thee to be troubled for all these mortals. Cast but thy eyes towards the duties of thy particular tribe, and it will ill become thee to tremble. A soldier of the Kshătrĕĕ tribe hath no duty superior to fighting. Just to thy wish the door of heaven is found open before thee. Such soldiers only as are the favorites of Heaven obtain such a glorious fight as this. But, if thou wilt not perform the duty of thy calling, and fight out the field, thou wilt abandon thy duty and thy honor, and be guilty of a crime. Mankind speak of thy renown as infinite and inexhaustible. The fame of one who hath been respected in the world is extended even beyond the dissolution of the body. The generals of the armies will think that thy retirement from the field arose from fear, and thou wilt become despicable, even amongst those by whom thou wert wont to be respected. Thy enemies will speak of thee in words which are unworthy to be spoken, and depreciate thy courage and abilities: what can be more dreadful than this! If thou art slain thou wilt obtain heaven; if thou art victorious thou wilt enjoy a world for thy reward; wherefore, son of Kŏŏntēē, arise and be determined for the battle. Make pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, the same, and then prepare for battle; or if thou dost not, thou wilt be criminal in a high degree. Let thy reason be thus applied in the field of battle.

This thy judgment is formed upon the speculative doctrines of the Sānkhyă sāstră; hear what it is in the practical, with which being endued thou shalt forsake the bonds of action (10).

(10 The bonds of action.—The Hindoos believe that every action of the body, whether good or evil, confineth the soul to mortal birth; and that an eternal release, which they call Mŏŏktĕĕ, is only to be attained by a total neglect of all sublunary things, or, which is the same thing according to the doctrine of Krĕĕshnă, the abandonment of all hopes of the reward of our actions; for such reward, they say, can only be a short enjoyment of a place in heaven which they call Swărg; because no man can, merely by his actions, attain perfection owing to the mixture of good and evil which is implanted in his constitution.)

A very small portion of this duty delivereth a man from great fear. In this there is but one judgment; but that is of a definite nature, whilst the judgments of those of indefinite principles are infinite and of many branches.

Men of confined notions, delighting in the controversies of the Vēds, tainted with worldly lusts, and preferring a transient enjoyment of heaven to eternal absorption, whilst they declare there is no other reward, pronounce, for the attainment of worldly riches and enjoyments, flowery sentences, ordaining innumerable and manifold ceremonies, and promising rewards for the actions of this life. The determined judgment of such as are attached to riches and enjoyment, and whose reason is led astray by this doctrine, is not formed upon mature consideration and meditation. The objects of the Vēds are of a threefold nature (11).

(11 The objects of the Vēds are of a threefold nature.—The commentators do not agree with respect to the signification of this passage; but, as the Vēds teach three distinct systems of religion, it is probable that it refers to this circumstance.)

Be thou free from a threefold nature; be free from duplicity, and stand firm in the path of truth; be free from care and trouble, and turn thy mind to things which are spiritual. The knowing divine findeth as many uses in the whole Vēds collectively, as in a reservoir full flowing with water.

Let the motive be in the deed, and not in the event. Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward. Let not thy life be spent in inaction. Depend upon application, perform thy duty, abandon all thought of the consequence, and make the event equal, whether it terminate in good or evil; for such an equality is called Yōg (12).

(12 Yōg.—There is no word in the Sănskrĕĕt language that will bear so many interpretations as this. Its first signification is junction or union. It is also used for bodily or mental application; but in this work it is generally used as a theological term, to express the application of the mind in spiritual things, and the performance of religious ceremonies. The word Yōgēē, a devout man, is one of its derivatives. If the word devotion be confined to the performance of religious duties, and a contemplation of the Deity, it will generally serve to express the sense of the original; as will devout and devoted for its derivatives.)

The action stands at a distance inferior to the application of wisdom. Seek an asylum then in wisdom (13) alone; for the miserable and unhappy are so on account of the event of things.

(13 Wisdom.—Wherever the word wisdom is used in this Translation, is to be understood inspired wisdom, or a knowledge of the Divine Nature. The original word is Gnān, or as it is written Jnān.)

Men who are endued with true wisdom are unmindful of good or evil in this world. Study then to obtain this application of thy understanding, for such application in business is a precious art.

Wise men, who have abandoned all thought of the fruit which is produced from their actions, are freed from the chains of birth, and go to the regions of eternal happiness.

When thy reason shall get the better of the gloomy weakness of thy heart, then shalt thou have attained all knowledge which hath been, or is worthy to be taught. When thy understanding, by study brought to maturity, shall be fixed immoveably in contemplation, then shall it obtain true wisdom.”


What, O Krĕĕshnă, is the distinction of that wise and steady man who is fixed in contemplation? What may such a sage declare? Where may he dwell? How may he act?


A man is said to be confirmed in wisdom, when he forsaketh every desire which entereth into his heart, and of himself is happy, and contented in himself. His mind is undisturbed in adversity, he is happy and contented in prosperity, and he is a stranger to anxiety, fear, and anger. Such a wise man is called a Mŏŏnĕĕ. The wisdom of that man is established, who in all things is without affection; and, having received good or evil, neither rejoiceth at the one, nor is cast down by the other. His wisdom is confirmed, when, like the tortoise, he can draw in all his members, and restrain them from their wonted purposes. The hungry man loseth every other object but the gratification of his appetite, and when he is become acquainted with the Supreme, he loseth even that. The tumultuous senses hurry away, by force, the heart even of the wise man who striveth to restrain them. The inspired man, trusting in me, may quell them and be happy. The man who hath his passions in subjection, is possessed of true wisdom.

The man who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath a concern; from this concern is created passion, from passion anger, from anger is produced folly (14), from folly a depravation of the memory, from the loss of memory the loss of reason, and from the loss of reason the loss of all!

(14 Folly.—In the original Mōhă, which signifies an embarrassment of the faculties, arising from the attendant qualities of the principles of organized matter.)

A man of a governable mind, enjoying the objects of his senses, with all his faculties rendered obedient to his will, and freed from pride and malice, obtaineth happiness supreme. In this happiness is born to him an exemption from all his troubles; and his mind being thus at ease, wisdom presently floweth to him from all sides. The man who attendeth not to this, is without wisdom or the power of contemplation. The man who is incapable of thinking, hath no rest. What happiness can he enjoy who hath no rest? The heart, which followeth the dictates of the moving passions, carrieth away his reason, as the storm the bark in the raging ocean. The man, therefore, who can restrain all his passions from their inordinate desires, is endued with true wisdom. Such a one walketh but in that night when all things go to rest, the night of time. The contemplative Mŏŏnĕĕ sleepeth but in the day of time, when all things wake.

The man whose passions enter his heart as waters run into the unswelling passive ocean, obtaineth happiness; not he who lusteth in his lusts. The man who, having abandoned all lusts of the flesh, walketh without inordinate desires, unassuming, and free from pride, obtaineth happiness. This is divine dependance. A man being possessed of this confidence in the Supreme, goeth not astray: even at the hour of death, should he attain it, he shall mix with the incorporeal nature of Brăhm.

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