Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Ramanuja | Discourse 2 verse 51-72

karmajaṁbuddhi-yuktāhi phalaṁtyaktvāmanīṣiṇaḥ|
janma bandha vinirmuktāḥpadaṁgacchanty-anāmayam || 51 ||

51. The wise who possess this mental disposition, having relinquished the fruits of action, are freed from the bondage of rebirth and go to the region beyond all suffering.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Those who are factually situated in spiritual intelligence perform activities as a matter of duty free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards.

They are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms. This information is well documented in the Vedic scriptures.

yadāte mohakalilaṁbuddhir vyati-tariṣyati |
tadāgantāsi nirvedaṁ śrotavyasya śrutasya ca || 52 ||

52. When your intellect has passed beyond the tangle of delusion, you will feel distaste regarding what you shall hear and what you have already heard.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Performing actions as prescribed in the previous verses and therefore purged of all dross the realisation one attains will extricate them from the perplexities of worldliness arising from identification with actions and the reward of actions.

From that point on all that one has hitherto heard regarding the wisdom of renouncing the rewards of action as the cause of motivation for action as well as what one would subsequently hear regarding the fruitiveness of actions will by one's own free will be regarded with complete indifference.

What has thus far been given is in the next verse to be described:

It is known as yoga which is the science of uniting the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness by actions performed with the light of spiritual intelligence based on bona fide knowledge of the immortal soul.

śruti vipratipannāte yadāsthāsyasi niścalā|
samādhāv-acalābuddhis tadāyogam avāpsyasi || 53 ||

53. When your intellect, well enlightened by listening [to Me] and firmly placed, remains unshaken in a concentrated mind, then you will attain the vision of the Self (Yoga).

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna begins this verse with the word śruti. Śruti refers to Vedanta which implies Śravaṇam or hearing from them.

For it is by the hearing of transcendental instructions that the mind is evolved as it begins to reflect and contemplate on the immortal, incomparable and exceedingly subtle nature of the eternal soul.

When this consciousness which is by its very nature is steadfast and stable is firmly rooted within a mind purified of all dross and selfish actions, then at that time one shall achieve yoga and realise enlightenment.

The understanding is that by practice in performing activities in the selfless parameters of karma-yoga with knowledge of the eternal soul as revealed in the Vedic scriptures develops an illumination in consciousness called sthita-prajnata and that by sustained effort of this consciousness one is gradually achieves self- realisation.

Hearing this Arjuna next desires to understand the components of this unique consciousness:

Is it achieved by willpower, by yoga, by knowledge of the soul, by detachment or is it a combination of all of the above?

This Arjuna will question in the next verse.

arjuna uvāca
sthita-prajñāsya kābhāṣāsamādhisthasya keśava |
sthita-dhīḥkiṁprabhāṣata kim āsīta vrajeta kim || 54 ||

Arjuna said:

54. What is the mode of speech, O Krishna, of one of steady wisdom who is established in the control of the mind? What will one of steady wisdom say? How does he sit? How does he move?

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

What is it that which defines the sthita-prajnah or the adept fixed with spiritual intelligence who is immersed in transcendent consciousness?

What are the characteristics to be recognised by such a one so situated in this state of mind? How does he speak and how does he act?

This will be answered next.

śrībhagavān uvāca
prajahāti yadākāmān sarvān pārtha manogatān |
ātmany-evātmanātuṣṭaḥsthita-prajñās tad-ocyate || 55 ||

The Lord said:

55. When one relinquishes all the desires arising in the mind, O Arjuna, when one is satisfied in oneself with the Self, then one is said to be of steady wisdom (sthita-prajña).

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna explains that when the particular activities of the adept of spiritual intelligence are described then the characteristics are recognised.

Because one with spiritual intelligence focus their mind to be fully immersed solely in the soul, they are known as being soul satisfied.

When such a one is so absorbed in the soul that all other desires abiding therein are completely banished then such a one is known as sthita-prajnah situated in transcendent consciousness.

This is the paramount platform of spiritual intelligence in the mind. After this the next lower intermediate stage will be defined.

duḥkheṣv-anudvigna-manāḥsukheṣu vigata spṛhaḥ|
vīta-rāga bhaya krodhaḥsthita-dhīr munir ucyate || 56 ||

56. One whose mind is not perturbed by pain, who does not hanker after pleasures, who is free from desire, fear and anger —is called a sage of steady intellect (sthita-dhi).

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

To be free from an agitated mind is not to become aggrieved when situations arise of impending affliction and difficulty or bereavement for something cherished and lost.

To not be elated in happiness is to remain in an unattached and passive state even when joyous events occur.

Desire is the longing for things not obtained. One must learn to be free from this.

Fear is worrying for prospective sorrow which may be caused by bereavement of what is cherished and the projection of the coming of unwanted things. One must learn to be free from this.

Anger is that disturbed state of mind and irritated feelings produced of pain from others causing separation from what is cherished or giving the experience of things not cherished. One must learn to be free from this.

Such a being is a muni or one of profound contemplation on the soul. This being is known as sthita-prājña situated in perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

Lord Krishna describes the next lower stage in the next verse.

yaḥsarvatrān-abhisnehas tat tat prāpya śubhāśubham |
nābhinandati na dveṣṭi tasya prajñāpratiṣṭhitā|| 57 ||

57. He who has no attachment anywhere, who, when encountering the agreeable or the disagreeable feels neither attraction nor aversion —his wisdom is firmly established (prajñā-pratiṣṭhitā).

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Forming no attachments in any situation means to be indifferent, unconcerned in an aloof state or attitude.

Auspicious is a situation that is pleasing and inauspicious is a situation that is displeasing. Lord Krishna is instructing not to be overjoyed by the pleasing or despondent over the unpleasant.

One who can successfully engage themselves thus is sthita-prajñā situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

The next lower stage is given in the next verse.

yadāsaṁharate cāyaṁkūrmo’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ|
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñāpratiṣṭhitā|| 58 ||

58. When one is able to withdraw the senses from the objects of senses on every side, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, then one's wisdom is firmly established.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna gives the analogy of a turtle which withdraws its limbs inside.

Similarly when one is able to keep their senses from pursuing sensual objects of mundane pleasure by withdrawing the senses inside and who also consciously reflects upon the soul within,

such a one is sthita- prajñā situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendent meditation.

There are four stages in developing to this platform each of which develops backwards from its preceding stage. The difficulty in following this is revealed by Lord Krishna in the next verse.

viṣayāvinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ|
rasa-varjaṁraso’pyasya paraṁdṛṣṭvānivartate || 59 ||

59. The objects of senses turn away from the abstinent one, leaving only the predilection behind. Even this predilection turns away when the Supreme is seen.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Sensual objects of enjoyment are fuel for the senses.

Lord Krishna states that the desire for these sensual objects departs when one starves them by restraining the senses from indulging in them.

But although the action is restrained the craving remains subtly within the mind. Rasa is taste and raga is attachment. So the craving attachment for taste of sense objects remains present.

However when the eternal nature of the soul is realised in all its glorious splendour and it is seen that it is infinitely more attractive than the most delightful sense object. At that time all desire for sense objects completely vanishes along with the residue of craving.

yatato hyapi kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ|
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁmanaḥ|| 60 ||

60. The turbulent senses, O Arjuna, indeed forcefully carry away the mind of even a wise person, even though he is continually striving [to control them].

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Until and unless self-realisation is attained by direct soul cognition the cravings and attachments for sensual experiences will never entirely cease to exist subtly or physically.

The concerted exertions of even the persevering yogi can all be to no avail against the restless and powerful senses of which any one of them can forcibly decoy the mind astray.

Thus the conquest of the senses is ultimately dependent upon realisation of the eternal soul and the perception of the soul is dependent upon control of the senses.

Thus Lord Krishna alludes to the difficulty there is in striving for soul cognition following jñāna-niṣṭhā by knowledge only.

tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya yukta āsīta matparaḥ|
vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi tasya prajñāpratiṣṭhitā|| 61 ||

61. Having controlled all the senses, one should abide in the state of meditation, having Me as Supreme [goal]; for, one who has controlled his senses, wisdom is firmly established.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Whosoever would wish to succeed in overcoming the dichotomous difficulty by the mutual inter-relating dependence of sense control and soul cognition as delineated previously,

must certainly master the senses, which due to their constant craving for pleasure are extremely troublesome to govern.

Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord is instructing to make Him the sole object of one’s meditation and thus become established in undisturbed serenity in the ultimate reality.

When our minds have been evolved to realising Lord Krishna as the supreme absolute reality all impurities are eradicated and the mind is purified and clear, free from all desires.

Now at this stage for the first time the mind is free from all desires. The mind along with the senses completely under control is then capable of achieving cognition of the eternal soul.

In the Vishnu Purāṇa XI.VII.LXXIV beginning yatha adniruddhata-sikhah it is said that as a blazing fire fanned by blowing wind burns up dry wood;

in the same way Lord Krishna enthroned in the heart burns up all sins of those who link their individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness in soul cognition.

Spiritual intelligence is confirmed in those whose senses are under control.

But it must be noted that unless devotion has developed for the Supreme Lord Krishna, whosoever attempts to master the senses by their own might and self-effort are all destined to failure.

dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥsaṅgas teṣūpajāyate |
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥkāmāt krodho’bhijāyate || 62 ||

62. When one deliberates upon sense-objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment desire is born, from desire anger arises;

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Indeed, when a person, attempts to sever attachment to sense-objects, but does not focus the mind on Me,

even though he may control the senses, contemplation on sense-objects is unavoidable on account of the sub-liminal activators (saṁskāras) accumulated from time immemorial.

Again attachment develops fully in one who deliberates upon sense objects.

'From attachment desire arises ' —What is termed desire (kāma) is indeed, nothing other than a more developed stage of attachment. After reaching that stage, it is impossible for one to refrain from indulgence in sense-gratification.

'From desire anger arises' —when a desire arises without access to its object, a negative emotion arises against persons nearby, to the effect 'Our desire is thwarted by these persons' —this is anger (krodha).

krodhād-bhavati saṁmohaḥsaṁmohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ|
smṛti-bhramśād buddhi-nāśo buddhir-nāśāt praṇaśyati || 63 ||

63. From anger arises delusion; from delusion, the loss of memory; from the loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; and with the destruction of discrimination, one is lost.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna is explaining that one whose cravings for sensual objects linger, the effort to overcome the senses without focusing the mind on the Supreme Lord is futile.

This is due to the fact that without the Supreme Lords grace the residue of past sensual activities and the pleasure or frustration derived therefrom will delude the mind to pursue sense objects.

This debilitating effect creates a magnetic attraction where the desire for sense objects becomes more and more extreme. From this extreme desire springs kāma lust.

Lust is the next stage of desire. Lust is that which one feels when they thinks that they cannot exist without their desire being gratified.

From lust springs krodha anger. Krodha is that frustrated outraged one feels against that which stands in the way of obtaining the gratification of ones senses.

From krodha arises sammoha bewilderment and delusion which is the mental condition where one is no longer cognisant of what action should be performed and what action should not be performed. One will foolishly do anything in this condition.

Thereafter comes dementia causing loss in memory of the process one began in order to constrain the senses and control the mind.

From dementia comes loss of willpower, one no longer has the drive and incentive to cultivate themselves towards obtaining spiritual realisation of the eternal soul.

When this happens then one perishes their spiritual opportunity being drowned again and again in samsāra the endless cycle of birth and death in the material existence.

rāga-dveṣa viyuktais tu viṣayān indriyaiś-caran |
ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmāprasādam adhigacchati || 64 ||

64. But one who is self-controlled, moving among the sense-objects with the senses under restraint, free from attraction and aversion, attains tranquillity.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Previously in verse 61 Lord Krishna has declared that whoever meditates exclusively on Him as the Lord of all, being the soul within all hearts, then by this all impurities are eradicated and the mind becomes clear, expunging all desires.

Here he says that the senses become destitute and barren of all cravings and aversions when they are mastered by the mind in this manner.

Rejecting all desires for sensual objects with a mind firmly under control, one achieves lucidity of mind along with inner purity and blissfulness.

prasāde sarva-duḥkhānāṁhānir asyopajāyate |
prasanna-cetaso hyāśu buddhiḥparyavatiṣṭhate || 65 ||

65. In that state of serenity all sorrow is overcome; for in the case of one with a serene mind, the Buddhi soon becomes well established.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna now explains that when the mind is placid and pure it has enacted for itself the cessation of all miseries arising from conjunction with prakṛti materialism.

Prasanna-chetah refers to that delightful one whose mind is expunged of all impediments that hinders it from realising the eternal soul while bestowing the spiritual intelligence needed for illumination.

Thus when the mind has been purified all sorrow is terminated.

nāsti buddhir-ayuktasya na cāpyuktasya bhāvanā|
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir aśāntasya kutaḥsukham || 66 ||

66. There is no right disposition (Buddhi) for the un-integrated, for him there is no contemplation on the ātman, and for one without contemplation on the ātman there is no peace; and for one lacking peace where is happiness?

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

One who is unable to concentrate and focus their mind in meditation on Lord Krishna is known as ayukta devoid of spiritual intelligence.

One who attempts to control their senses by their own efforts without securing the grace of the Supreme Lord merited by devotion – to these living entities no clear, definitive illumination in consciousness can develop,

because one will not be able to internally realise the ultimate reality of the Supreme Lord through the medium of the eternal soul as having name, form, qualities, pastimes, abode and sweetness.

Thus without being able to comprehend and contemplate on the nature of the eternal soul there can be no tranquillity. Nor is it possible to dispel the compulsive urge and inclination to experience sensual objects.

To those who are not tranquil, who are addicted to sensual objects and who are submerged in sense gratification; how can they ever possibly attain eternal blessedness and transcendental bliss?!

Again as stated previously are the disastrous consequences that result in the inability to govern the tempestuous senses.

indriyāṇāṁhi caratāṁyan mano’nuvidhīyate |
tad asya harati prajñāṁvāyur nāvam ivāṁbhasi || 67 ||

67. For, when the mind follows the senses — experiencing their objects, the understanding is carried away by them as the wind carries away a ship on the waters.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

When the senses are rambling about in pursuit of their delights and one allows their mind to follow in hot pursuit after them, then the mind will be deprived of its inherent intelligence and will completely forget all the things that lead to ones highest good.

Instead of inducing a strong will to pursue spiritual development one will develop a strong will for sensual enjoyment.

Thus Lord Krishna gives this fitting analogy of a ship in the ocean being tossed about violently hither and thither by tempestuous winds. The conclusion of this rational is explained in the next verse.

tasmād yasya mahābāho nigṛhītāni sarvaśaḥ|
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñāpratiṣṭhitā|| 68 ||

68. Therefore, O mighty-armed one, he whose senses are restrained from pursuing sense gratification in every way, his wisdom is firmly established.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Therefore in the way that it has been definitively expounded by Lord Krishna, whosoever achieves communion with Him, the most exalted reality for meditation, will surely in every way have their senses abstracted and completely oblivious to the objects of the senses.

Thus so qualified to them will come installation of wisdom and so established they will become fit to attain the eternal soul.

The achievement of one who has subjugated their senses and whose mind is situated in sublime serenity is discussed in the next verse.

yāniśāsarva bhūtānāṁtasyāṁjāgarti saṁyamī|
yasyāṁjāgrati bhūtāni sāniśāpaśyato muneḥ|| 69 ||

69. The self-controlled one is awake during what is night for all beings, when all beings are awake, that is the night to the enlightened one.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna is explaining that realisation of the soul is like the darkness of night to all conditioned living entities. Being that the wisdom of soul cognition does not shine forth unto them who pursue sensual objects being likened to the darkness of night.

But that understanding of the soul for the realised being who have subjugated their senses is lucidly awake in this night and sublimely aware remaining focused on the bliss of the eternal soul.

Whereas those of mundane understanding who occupy their existence awake to the pursuits of sensuous delights in this darkness of night are asleep to the reality of soul cognition. Sensual pursuits are not appealing to one situated in soul cognition.

apūryamāṇam acala pratiṣṭhaṁsamudram āpaḥpraviśanti yadvat |
tadvat kāmāyaṁpraviśanti sarve sa śāntim āpnoti na kāmakāmī|| 70 ||

70. One into whom all desires enter, as the rivers enter the plenitude of the ocean which remains undisturbed, attains to peace, and not one who hankers after objects of desire.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

The ocean is full unto itself and always maintains the same form even though countless rivers enter into it. Whether the rivers enter or do not enter, the ocean is unaffected and undergoes no difference.

Similarly when the senses of one in transcendent meditation come in contact with sense objects such as sound and it enters into the sense vector of hearing and is apprehended by the ears such a one still remains peaceful and maintains an equipoise state of consciousness.

In other words the sublime satisfaction derived from direct soul cognition precludes any disturbance from the senses or agitation towards sense delights.

Whether sense objects are experienced by the senses or not experienced by them one in transcendent meditation will not be affected and will not be subject to any disturbance.

But Lord Krishna is saying that this state can never be attained by one who is kāmakana full of lascivious desires or is controlled by the same, for such a being can never achieve peace.

vihāya kāmān yaḥsarvān pumāṁś-carati niḥspṛhaḥ|
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥsa śāntim adhigacchati || 71 ||

71. The individual who, abandoning all desires, perseveres without longing, devoid of the notion of possession and the sense of egoistic self-importance —he attains peace.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

The word kāmas means desires or those things which one wishes to enjoy such as taste or touch.

Lord Krishna is instructing that whoever can relinquish these desires is free from craving, free from my-ness the conception that these things are mine and free from I-ness, my-ness and the conception that I am this body.

Such a one not bewildered does misidentify the physical body as being the soul, rather such a one perceives the soul and attains peace.

eṣābrāhmī-sthitiḥpārtha naināṁprāpya vimuhyati |
sthitvā’syām antakāle'pi brahma-nirvāṇam ṛcchati || 72 ||

72. This is called the Brahmi-state, O Arjuna, attaining which none is deluded. By abiding in this state even at the hour of death, one attains Nirvana.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna concludes chapter two by revealing the state of consciousness achieved by one who performs all actions unattached and equipoised based on knowledge of the eternal nature of the immortal soul.

This process has for its goal the attainment of transcendent meditation. It is Brāhmī or that which leads to brahma the ultimate truth. Knowing the philosophy of actions is like this, one will no longer be subject to bewilderment and delusion.

The results of this are one will no longer be compelled to enter samsāra the endless cycle of birth and death in the mirage of material existence.

If one begins this process with determination even in old age one will have the opportunity to attain cognition of the eternal soul within and brahma-nirvana final liberation from the material existence.

Summary

Thus in this second chapter one who is not knowledgeable about the exact nature of the soul, or how by performing ones prescribed duties unattached can lead to liberation,

or how by the misconception of identifying oneself as the physical body one will not be properly situated

and how by the process of Sānkhya in jñāna-yoga teaching the knowledge of the eternal nature of the soul as well as in karma-yoga performing all activities with unattachment leads one to the consciousness state of transcendent meditation.

The following doctrine is what is summarised in chapter two:

1) That the immortal soul is eternal.

2) All activities should be performed as a matter of duty devoid of desire for reward.

3) One who is spiritually intelligent of illuminated consciousness understands that through either jñāna-yoga or karma-yoga the goal of transcendent meditation can be attained.

These three spiritual truths have been revealed in the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita for curing ignorance and dispelling delusion.

This has been clarified in the following verse by Śrī Yāmunācāryā: —

"Sānkhya and Yoga, which comprehend within their scope the understanding of the nature of the eternal Self and the practical way of disinterested action respectively, were imparted in order to remove Arjuna's delusion. Through them the state of steady wisdom can be reached."

hariḥ oṁ tatsat
iti śrīmad-bhagavad-gītāsupaniṣatsu
brahma-vidyāyāṁy oga śāstre
śrī-kṛṣṇārjuna saṁvāde Sānkhya yogo nāma
dvitīyo’dhyāyaḥ

Thus in the Upanishad of the Glorious Bhagavad Gita
The science of the Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga
The dialogue between Śrī Krishna and Arjuna
Ends the second discourse entitled —
"The Yoga of Knowledge (Sānkhya )"