2.16 – “The unreal has no being and the real has no non-being; and the truth about both has also been seen by men who know the reality.”
The unreal has no existence; it has no being and so bringing it to an end is out of the question. On the other hand, there is no absence of the real in all time-past, present or future. Arjun then asks Sri Krishn whether he is saying this as an incarnation of God. Sri Krishn’s reply to this is that the distinction between the real and the unreal has also been revealed to sages who have realized the true nature of the human Soul as identical with the Supreme Spirit pervading the universe.
2.17 –“Know that since the Spirit which pervades the universe is imperishable and immutable, no one can effect his destruction.”
That which spreads through and is present in every atom of the universe is indestructible. No one is capable of destroying the imperishable principle.
2.18 –“Fight, O Bharat (Arjun), because while the bodies which clothe the Soul are said to come to an end, the embodied Spirit itself is for ever, indestructible, and boundless.”
Arjun is exhorted to get up and fight because all these physical bodies that embody the indwelling, boundless, and eternal Spirit are said to be ephemeral.
This Spirit, the Self, is imperishable, and it cannot be destroyed at any time. The Self is real, whereas the physical body is subject to death, and so unreal and nonexistent at all times.
Sri Krishn’s injunction to Arjun is, “Fight because the body is mortal.” But it is not evident from the exhortation whether Arjun is required to kill only the Kaurav. Aren’t the men on the side of Pandav, too, “bodies”? Are the Pandav immortal? If physical bodies are mortal, who is Sri Krishn there to defend? Is Arjun not a body, too? Is Sri Krishn there to defend that body which is unreal, without being, and unceasing? If it is so, may it not be assumed that he too is ignorant and lacking in discrimination, the power that distinguishes between the visible world and the invisible Spirit. Doesn’t he himself say later that the man who thinks of and toils only for the physical body (3.13) is ignorant and wanting in discernment? Such a wretched man lives in vain. There is also another problem. Who really is this Arjun?
As it was said in Chapter I, Arjun is an embodiment of affectionate devotion. Like a faithful charioteer, the revered God is always with his devotee. Like a friend, he guides him and shows him the right way. We are not a physical body. The body is a mere garment, a dwelling for the Soul to live in. The one who lives in it is the affectionate Self.The physical body was sometime back called “unceasing.” Elemental wars and slaughter do not destroy the body. When one body is forsaken, the Soul just assumes another body. It is with reference to this that Sri Krishn has said that there is change from one body to another just as a man grows from childhood to youth, and then to old age. If you hack a body to pieces, the Soul just puts on another body like a new apparel.
The real base of the body is constituted by sanskar, the merits-the influences and impressions-earned during a previous existence. And sanskar rests upon the mind. Perfect subjugation of the mind, so that it can be changeless, firm, and constant, and the dissolution of the last sanskar, are all different aspects of the same process. The disintegration of the last crust of this sanskar marks the end of physical existence. To bring about this dissolution we have to undertake aradhana, worship and adoration, of the desired God.Sri Krishn has named it action (karm) or the Way of Selfless Action (Nishkam Karm Yog). In the Gita, he has from time to time urged Arjun to wage war, but in the entire poem there is not one verse that supports the idea that its war is a physical war or in any way related to the idea of actual bloodshed.Evidently this war is the war between the opposed impulses of righteousness and unrighteousness, the forces of piety and those of impiety, that is fought within man’s Soul-the seat of all thought and feeling.
2.19 –“They are both ignorant, he who believes that the Self slays and he who thinks that he is slain, for he neither slays nor is he slain.”
He who regards the Self as the slayer and he who regards him as the slain are both unaware of his real nature, for he neither kills nor can he be killed.
2.20 – “Neither (ever) born nor dying, neither at any time coming into being nor ceasing to be, the Self is birthless, perpetual, unchanging, and timeless, and he is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.”
The Self, the God within soul, is neither at any time born nor does he at any time die, for what he undergoes in the name of death is a mere change of apparel. He cannot also be anything other than Self, because he is birthless, permanent, eternal, and primeval. Disintegration, death, of the body does not annihilate the self. The Self alone is real, timeless, unchanging, and eternal. Who are you? A follower of the eternal Dharm? What is for ever? The Self. So you are a follower, a disciple, of the Self. The Self and Brahm (God) are synonymous. And who are you ? A worshipper of the eternal Dharm. What is immutable? The Self, of course. That is to say that you and I all are adorers of the Self. But if we are not familiar with the spiritual path to the eternal truth, the way of following the dictates of the Self until he is one with the Supreme Spirit, we have nothing that is worthy of being described as changeless and everlasting. We are on trial for the final absolution and in close proximity to God if we pine for him, but we cannot be deemed as having been admitted as long as we are credulous enough to accept blindly one wrong convention or the other masquerading as Sanatan Dharm.
Be it in India or any other country, the Soul in all is identical. So, if anywhere on the earth there is a man who is aware of the true nature of Self and his ultimate goal, and who is eager to take to the way which will eventually lead his Self to the Supreme Spirit,he undoubtedly also belongs to the fold of Sanatan Dharm-the changeless and eternal.
[As expounded by most revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Paramhans]