Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book two verses 66-69

Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book two verses 66-69 May 26, 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...

66. There is no wisdom in him who is uncontrolled,
And there is likewise no concentration in him who is uncontrolled,
And in him who does not concentrate, there is no peace.
How can there be happiness for him who is not peaceful?

67. When the mind runs
After the wandering senses,
Then it carries away one’s understanding.
As the wind carries away a ship on the waters.

68. Therefore, O Arjuna,
The wisdom of him whose senses
Are withdrawn from the objects of the senses;
That wisdom stands firm.

69. The man of restraint is awake
In that which is night for all beings;
The time in which all beings are awake
Is night for the sage who sees.

Notes on the Sanskrit

Sargeant explains in footnote that the last verse means that the “Sage who sees” perceives the light of the Atman, though it is dark as night to others. Others see the light of the senses that is dark to the sage.

Commentaries of Gurus

Lord Krishna is explaining the defects due to the absence of happiness as referred to in this verse. Without being happy there is no possibility of concentration of the mind. Without concentration of the mind there can be no meditation and without meditation it is not possible to have inner awakening or soul-cognition. –Madhvacarya’s Commentary

Whichever one of the wandering senses the uncontrolled mind follows, that sense by itself enslaves the mind and carries away all discrimination making one restless for the object of desire. As the wind effortlessly snatches away a boat on the ocean whose helmsman is not in control; similarly the senses of one who is uncontrolled snatches away even their mundane intelligence. –Sridhara Swami’s Commentary

By previously establishing the depreciating effects of the senses in affecting the mind and degrading the intellect, Lord Krishna now concludes this topic by explaining that the problem to be addressed is the senses and that one who has the potency to restrain their senses from their sense objects is one who is situated in transcendent meditation. –Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary

It could be put forth that who is there in this world so perfectly controlled that they are like in a deep sleep free from all activities of the senses. Therefore explanation given in the previous verses is altogether inapplicable. Anticipating such doubts Lord Krishna states: what is night for all creaturesmeaning those of uncontrolled senses whose minds are covered by ignorance like the night exist in the darkness of the self. But those of self-controlled senses abiding in the light of the self are wide awake. The condition of beings engrossed in sensual pursuits in which all living beings appear awake is as night to the introspective yogi who is absorbed only in the bliss of the self. This is the meaning here. Just as an owl which is blind by day but sees quite clearly at night, one who has realised the Ultimate Truth through the eye of knowledge factually sees everything as the one, undivided Ultimate Truth within everything and not the objects perceived by the senses. Therefore with this understanding it can be seen that the explanation given here is indeed factually applicable. –Sridhara Swami’s Commentary

My Thoughts

I love the visual of the senses getting distracted and the mind chasing after them, getting one’s self farther and farther off track. The metaphor of the wind and the ship is very apt too, since a ship can be steered through the wind to accomplish a journey, but if it isn’t controlled then the wind just tosses it about and it gets no where.


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