Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book three verses 42-43

Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book three verses 42-43 April 19, 2017

We are doing a scripture study together: reading along through some scriptures and discussing the passages. Here are all of the posts on the previous verses for the Gita: Bhagavad Gita Study

From the Winthrop Sargeant translation of The Gita

42. They say that the senses are superior.
The mind is superior to the senses
Moreover, the intellect is superior to the mind
That which is superior to the intellect is the Self.

43. Thus having known that which is higher than the intellect,
Sustaining the self by the Self,
Kill the enemy, O Arjuna,
Which has the form of desire and is difficult to conquer.

End of Book III The Yoga of Action

Notes on the Sanskrit

manas and buddhi are mind and intellect. The difference between mind and intellect is manas v.s. buddhi. Buddhi, the intellect, is the discerner. So the mind, manas, brings information to the intellect to discern. Buddhi is the reflection of consciousness in the individual. Without atman there is no buddhi.

Lower case “self” and uppercase “Self” are the same word. There is a dependence on context to know which is being referenced.

The form of desire is kama-rupam

Commentaries From the Gurus

“He, the supreme Self, is the witness of the intellect.”

The phrase “sustaining the self by the Self” was confusing to me, but in this commentary it is put as “completely establishing (the Self) in spiritual absorption with the help of your own purified mind.” This might be like earlier when it was said that a fully realized man is completely satisfied and content in his Self. From that place of security and confidence, one has the strength to fight off the desire.

My Thoughts

Clearly the enemy to be killed referenced in verse 43 is this passion and anger, not the literal Kauravas. The enemy “has the form of desire.” The Bhagavad Gita is so full of these moments that allow us to see that the real point is not the literal war, but the inner war, the battle we all fight to clear away the veils of ignorance and find our true Self.

In my world it can be hard to remember that something comes after the intellect. Myself and most of the people I know place a very high value on intellect. But there is something superior to intellect and that is the soul/God/Self.

We have now come to the end of Book III of the Gita, known as Karma-Yoga. So this section was explaining and getting into detail on how to use action to further the purification of the soul and realization of the Self. The next book is about the renunciation of actions so we’ll get a balance of perspective.


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