Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book two verses 52-56

Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book two verses 52-56 April 21, 2015

We are doing a scripture study together: reading along through some scriptures and discussing the passages.

From the Winthrop Sargeant translation of The Gita

52. When your intellect crosses beyond
The thicket of delusion, then you shall become disgusted
With that which is yet to be heard
And with that which has been heard (in the Veda).

53. When your intellect stands
fixed in deep meditation, unmoving,
disregarding Vedic doctrine,
then you shall attain Self-realization.

54. Arjuna spoke:
How does one describe him who is of steady wisdom,
Who is steadfast in deep meditation, Krishna?
How does he who is steady in wisdom speak?
How does he sit? How does he move?

55. The Blessed Lord spoke:
When he leaves behind all desires
Emerging from the mind, Arjuna,
And is contented in the Self by the Self,
Then he is said to be one whose wisdom is steady.

56. He whose mind is not agitated in misfortune,
Whose desire for pleasures has disappeared,
Whose passion, fear, and anger have departed,
And whose meditation is steady, is said to be a sage.

Notes on the Sanskrit

I’m not sure where the “in the Veda” part is coming from in verse 52. Perhaps the context of previous verses. The word is “Shrutasya” that which is heard and that is a traditional way to refer to certain scriptures.

“In deep meditation” of verse 53 is actually “Samaadhau” which I would say is something beyond just meditation! It seems that must be a form of Samadhi, which is enlightenment. That’s a very deep state to be in indeed.

In the same verse the thing that you shall attain is literally “Yoga.” Yoga usually means discipline of some kind.

What is translated as “sage” in verse 56 is “munis” which is a word I’m not familiar with.

Commentaries of Gurus

The word nirvedam means indifferent, renunciation is not indicated here. Rather it is to be understood that by spiritual intelligence in the process of acquiring wisdom one becomes indifferent to mundane pursuits. –Madhvacarya’s Commentary

With genuine concern one may ask: When will I be able to attain that eternal and everlasting spiritual world? An important question but first one must successfully circumnavigate the maze of delusion in the material existence. When one has factually rejected the conception of identifying oneself as the physical body then one will by navigating oneself out of the maze of delusion successfully escape the net of illusion which is likened to a bottomless abyss.  -Sridhara Swami’s Commentary

Sruti vipraptipanna means not being influenced to act fruitively by the rewards given in the Vedic scriptures. –Madhvacarya’s Commentary

The Supreme Lord Krishna further explains that when Arjuna’s understanding which is now bewildered by the distraction of various scriptural conclusions describing actions which lead to heaven and actions which lead to hell, as well as worldly conceptions of possessing kingdoms and riches will get his mind fixed in samadhi or transcendental consciousness, then steadfastly focused on the supreme, not attracted to anything else due to expertise in yoga permanently is ecstatically enthralled thereby attaining the fruit of yoga which is absolute realisation of the Ultimate Truth. –Sridhara Swami’s Commentary

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 amuni or one of profound contemplation on the soul. –Ramanuja’s Commentary

My Thoughts

It continues to surprise me that Krishna speaks against the Vedas. It’s really throwing me off! But the commentary gives an explanation that makes sense to me: that Krishna is saying that you can’t be distracted by promises of getting heaven or other rewards from doing this or that thing. Don’t get derailed by these rules and rituals meant to gain you some material thing.

At first it can sound bad, this “detachment” or being unaffected by things. We might think this describes a depressive state rather than a natural one. I think it takes some practice to see how one can be “indifferent” to ups and downs in life without being…boring or dull. There can be a blissful peace in letting the ups and downs of life wash over us and not be perturbed by it. That’s a big switch, though. We are usually tremendously effected!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Lokesh

    I think I read it in the Mahabharata somewhere that a “Muni” is one who has achieved “Mauna” (silence/still of senses) and “dhyana” (meditation).

  • Shesh

    “It continues to surprise me that Krishna speaks against the Vedas. It’s really throwing me off!”

    My feeling is that Krishna is not agaist Vedas. May be some one has insered this into Geeta to meet his selfish agenda. Many times I read about lot of insertions in the Mahabharata. Originally Mahabharata was with small number of slokas. But later people added large number of slokas. This type of addition is not only in Mahabharata it also is other scripturs. Take for example Manu Smarati in which nearly 50% addition is there. Even in Pantanjal Yog darashan you may find insertions!
    Read more:

    • Shesh

      Sorry Ambaji for a mistake in my comment. “Even in Vaas Bhasha on Pantanjal Yog Darashan you may find insertions”

    • Ambaa

      Personally I look for a way to shift the way I understand the verses rather than assume that the verses are fabrications if I don’t like what they say!

  • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

    The transalations quoted are very unsatisfactory. every time the word veda, sruti or a variant occurs, it does not automatically mean the “vedic text”. I would like to say some more but I will start getting bitter so I must desist :).

    • Ambaa

      Thank you for this insight. That’s a great point. Do you have a translation that you would recommend?

      • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju


        Here is one that is somewhat more satisfactory.

        Here is my own version,

        When your intelligence has evolved from the dense forest of delusion, you shall transcend the tendencies and notions that you have accumulated, and shall seek no more of the various doctrines that will continue to be produced and offered. (Because the reality of existence will become apparent to your own intelligence as the forms and content of objects will become clear to the eye in broad daylight).

        One significant purpose of compositions in sanskrit verse is economy of expression, as it is with any other language. A great deal of content, emotion and experience is condensed into very brief phrases and lines. And therefore it is quite often necessary for a text to be accompanied by elaborate commentaries.

        But each commentary is an illumination limited or conditioned by the commentator and further limited by the abilities of the student.

        Therefore the most significant methods of spiritual inquiry are the grace of a guru and the sadhana of the aspirant. The scripture is almost a memory aid rather than an instruction manual. Typically nothing in the form of a practice is available as a written text. If it is written as a text, it is impossible to transmit the underlying reality. You cannot for instance describe in text the experience associated with drinking a cup of water. You can only refer to it. And with a written text it is easy to fool the “uninitiated”, into a false sense of understanding.

        That is why the Bhagavat Gita was given to just one person. A man properly qualified for the instruction, by several lifetimes of sadhana. In a setting when his whole pranic system was substantially open to such instruction. The Gita only records what Krishna said and Arjuna said. It cannot record what Arjuna experienced, or what he received in addition to the verbal content of the conversation.

    • Shesh

      What do you mean “vedic text?” Are you refering to vedas? Is Geeta vedic text?

      • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

        I must not talk too much about the veda. I have very limited experience of it.
        I will however offer the little that I know even while I run the risk of claiming and presuming insight and ability that I do not as of yet possess.

        The veda is for the most part a collection of Mantras. Now mantras are compositions of sounds that are designed to produce certain effects. On the other hand the mantras of the veda are also very sublime poetry. This is not essential for a mantra. The meanings of the sounds are really not the point of the mantra. That the words also mean something is a bit of intricate engineering designed to make it easy to remember the sounds. There is an intense science called the Mantra Shastra that is taught to those particularly interested in it. This discipline records the connection between the sounds and their effects. However apparently a reading of a text describing the mantra shastra will be completely futile. Most of it has to be transmitted by a teacher who has developed enough ability in the shastra.

        The path of Tantra is a simplified version of the Veda. Where instead of the longer and more intricate mantras of the veda, vastly simplified Bijaaksharaas are used. Correspondingly the objectives of tantra are simpler, more direct and quite often more powerful. And therefore also more esoteric.

        For thousands of years however, the mainstay of vedic tradition was simply the repetition of the vedic / mantric text. And so it is insisted not a single swara, varna, matra or balam can be out of place in chanting of the mantra. All the secular and religious disciplines around the veda (the vedangas) are developed not as derivatives of the veda but as a support system for the veda.

        Now the Bhagavat Gita is not like this. It is a rapid summary of dozens of different philosophies and technologies of spirituality used among the ancient Hindus. The slokas of the Gita are not mantras. In addition there are significant parts that are simply non verbal. The viswaroopa darsana for instance, cannot be described by any text.

      • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju