avācyavādānś ca bahūn vadiṣyanti tavā’hitāḥ,
nindantas tava sāmarthyam tato duḥkhataram nu kim (2.36)
2.36 –“There can be nothing more painful for you than the disparaging and improper words your adversaries will speak against your valour.”
His enemies will malign Arjun and utter words about him that should not be spoken. A single blemish is sufficient to bring upon one a shower of slander and abuse from all directions. Even words, improper for speech, are spoken. Can there be a greater grief than being an object of such calumny?
hato vā prāpsyasi svargam jitvā vā bhokṣyase mahīm,
tasmād uttiṣṭha kaunteya yuddhāya kṛtaniścayaḥ (2.37)
2.37 -“Rise up with determination for the war because if you die in it you will attain to heaven and, if you win, you will attain to the most exalted glory…”
If Arjun loses his life in the war, he will go to heaven and be with Swar – the indestructible God. The impulses that guide one towards the world of matter that is external to the Self will be retarded. And his heart will then overflow with the divine qualities that enable one to realize the Supreme Spirit. In case he wins, however, he will attain to the state of redemption, the noblest accomplishment. So Sri Krishn exhorts Arjun to get up determinedly and prepare for war.
Usually by the verse under examination it is understood that if Arjun dies in the war, he will be privileged to live in heaven, but that if he is victorious he will be rewarded with enjoyment of worldly pleasures. But we cannot but remember that Arjun has told Sri Krishn that, in neither a realm made up of all the three worlds, nor even in an Indr-like lordship over gods, can he see the means that can remedy the grief that is wearing out his senses. If he is to achieve only all this, he has said, he will not fight at any cost.Nevertheless,Sri Krishn exhorts him to fight. What greater reward than domination over the earth in case of victory and celestial pleasures in case of defeat does Krishn promise Arjun in order to make him fight? Arjun is, in fact, a disciple aiming at the truth and excellence that lie beyond earthly and heavenly joys.
Knowing this,Sri Krishn, the accomplished teacher, tells him that even if the time allotted to his body expires in the course of the war and he does not succeed in reaching his goal, imbued with divine riches he will gain an existence in Swar , the changeless and eternal. If, on the other hand, he succeeds in the struggle while his temporal body is still alive, he will achieve the sublimity of God and thus attain to the state of the highest glory. He will thus be a winner both ways: if he conquers he will attain to the highest state; and if he loses he will find an abode in heaven and enjoy godly pleasures.There is profit in victory and there is profit too in defeat.
sukhaduḥkhe same kṛtvā lābhālābhau jayājayau,
tato yuddhāya yujyasva nai’vam pāpam avāpsyasi (2.38)
2.38-“You will not incur sin if you get up and fight the war, treating victory and defeat, profit and loss, and happiness and sorrow, alike.”
Sri Krishn counsels Arjun to regard with an equal mind happiness and sorrow, profit and loss, and victory and defeat, and prepare for war. If he participates in the war, he will not be guilty of sin. He will gain the state of sublimity, the most precious possession that is possible for a man to have, in case of success, and achievement of godhood even in case of defeat. So Arjun should deliberate well on his gains and losses, and prepare for war.
eṣā te’ bhihitā sānkhye buddhir yoge tuimām śṛṇu,
buddhyā yukto yayā pārtha karmabandham prahāsyasi (2.39)
2.39 -“This knowledge which I have imparted to you, O Parth, is related to Gyan Yog, the Way of knowledge, and now you should listen to me on Karm Yog, the Way of Selfless Action, with which you can successfully sever the fetters of action as well as its consequence (karm).”
Sri Krishn tells Arjun that the knowledge, he has spoken of, is related to the Way of Knowledge. What knowledge is it except that Arjun should fight? The substance of the Way of Discrimination or Knowledge is only that if we fight according to our disposition after a careful appraisal of our capacity as well as of profit and loss, we shall attain to the state of ultimate bliss if we win, and to heavenly, godlike existence even if we are vanquished. There is gain in both cases. If we do not act, others will speak disparagingly of us and look upon us as having retreated like cowards, and we shall be disgraced. So to forge ahead on the path of action with a careful understanding of one’s innate nature is itself the Way of Knowledge or Discernment.
We usually come across the misconception that no war needs to be fought on the Path of Knowledge. It is said that knowledge involves no action. We think in our vanity: “I am pure.” “I am enlightened.”- “I am a part of God himself.” Accepting it as an axiom that excellence be gets excellence, we sit idly. But this is not the Way of Knowledge according to Yogeshwar Krishn. The “action” which has to be performed in following the Way of Knowledge is similar to that which has to be undertaken for the Way of Selfless Action. The only difference between the two ways is that of attitude.
The man who treads the Path of Knowledge acts with a proper evaluation of his situation and with self-reliance, whereas the man who takes to the Path of Selfless Action also acts, but with reliance upon the mercy of the adored God. Action is a basic requirement of both the ways and in each of them it is the same, although it has to be done in two different ways. The attitudes behind the action in the two ways are different.
So Sri Krishn asks Arjun to listen to him while he speaks of the Way of Selfless Action, armed with which he can effectively destroy the bonds of action and its consequence. Here the Yogeshwar has, for the first time, spoken of karm, although without explaining what it is. Instead of dwelling upon the nature of action, he describes its characteristic traits.
ne’hā’bhikramanāśo’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate,
svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt (2.40)
2.40 -“Since selfless action neither wears out the seed from which it sprang nor has any adverse consequence, even a partial observance of this dharm liberates (one) from the dire terror (of repeated birth and death)”.
In the performance of action without coveting the fruits there of, the initial impulse or the seed is not destroyed. It also does not give rise to any evil. So selfless action, even though done in small measures, frees us from the great fear represented by birth and death. That necessitates reflecting over the nature of such action and walking at least a few steps along its path. Worshippers who have renounced the vanity of earthly possessions have trodden this path, but so can those who lead the life of householders.Sri Krishn tells Arjun to just sow the seed,for the seed is never destroyed. There is no power in nature, no weapon, which can destroy it. The material world can only cover it up momentarily and hide it for a while, but it cannot wipe out the initial inspiration, the seed, of the act of spiritual accomplishment.