Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bhagavadgita 2-45, श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता २-४५

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैकुण्यो भवार्जुन।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान्।।२-४५।।

सन्धि विग्रहः
त्रैगुण्य-विषयाः वेदाः निस्त्रैकुण्यः भवार्जुन।
निर्द्वन्द्वः नित्य-सत्त्वस्थः निर्योगक्षेमः आत्मवान्।।२-४५।।

हे अर्जुन! वेदाः त्रैगुण्य-विषयाः। (त्वं) निस्त्रैकुण्यः,
नित्य-सत्त्वस्थः, निर्द्वन्द्वः, निर्योगक्षेमः आत्मवान् भव।

2.45 त्रैगुण्य=pertaining to the three modes of material nature विषयाः=on the subject matter वेदाः=Vedic literatures निस्त्रैकुण्यः=transcendental to the three modes of material nature भवार्जुन=be O Arjuna निर्द्वन्द्वः=without duality नित्य-सत्त्वस्थः=in a pure state of spiritual existence निर्योगक्षेमः=free from ideas of gain and protection आत्मवान्=established in the self.

2.45: The three modes of material nature (Prakrti) are the subject matter of the Veda. Do not attach yourself to these three gunas. O Arjuna, be free from dualities such as pain and pleasure, steady in goodness (Sattva), free from thoughts of acquisition and preservation, and fixed in atman (self). 


"Becoming detached from the means to attain catur-varga (dharma, artha, kaama and moksha), only take shelter of bhaktiyoga." shree Bhagavaan is speaking this sloka beginning with the word traigunya, because the predominant subject matters of the Vedas illuminate karma, jnaana, etc., which are under the gunas. The meaning of the word traigunya is formed with the suffix 'syan'. Since, in the Vedas, there are excessive descriptions of karma and jnaana, according to the logic of bhumnaa vyapadesaa bhavanti (wherein the title is based on the predominating composition), the Vedas are called traigunya (pertaining to the three modes of nature). Only bhakti, however, can take one to shree Bhagavaan. This is the verdict of the Maatharahsruti. The shvetaasvatara Upanishad states: yasya deve paraa bhaktir yathaa deve tathaa gurau. "The meaning of the Vedas can only be revealed to one who has the same transcendental bhakti to both shree Bhagavaan and his gurudeva."

Nirguna-bhakti is the only subject matter of the smritis, such as the Pancaraatra and the Upanishads, including the Geetopanishad and Gopaala-tapani Upanishad. If it is accepted that bhakti is not described in the Vedas, bhakti will become unauthoritative. Therefore, Krishna directs Arjuna to become free from the Vedic injunctions of jnaana and karma, which are under the influence of the gunas. He tells him not to perform them, but to always follow the process for achieving bhakti as stated in the Vedas. It is mentioned in Brahmayaamala Puraana, "The pretentious display of exclusive haribhakti, neglecting the process of pancaraatra recommended in sruti, smriti and the Puraanas, etc., results only in eventual disturbance." This mistake or fault is inexcusable.

Those subject matters of the Vedas, that pertain to the gunas (saguna) and those that are beyond the gunas (gunaateeta) are called respectively traigunya (with the three gunas) and nistraigunya (free from the three gunas). shree Krishna says, "Of the two, pursue only nistraigunya. Become free from the three gunas by the influence of My nirguna-bhakti. Only then will you become free from dualities such as honour and dishonour. Therefore, remain exclusively in the association of My bhaktas who are always situated in nitya-sattva."

Here, the explanation of how to become situated in visuddha (nitya) sattva-guna will contradict the explanation on becoming free from the gunas. To achieve that which is lacking is called yoga, and to protect that which one possesses is called kshema. By the word niryoga-kshema, shree Bhagavaan is telling Arjuna to become free from the concern for both yoga and kshema. "Upon becoming overpowered by the taste for My bhakti-rasa, yoga and kshema will not be a cause for concern." When shree Bhagavaan states in Geetaa (9.22), "I personally carry yoga and kshema," He is displaying His affection for His bhaktas by stating, "Because I carry their burden of maintenance there is no need for them to separately endeavour for it." aatmavaan means 'become a person endowed with intelligence granted by Me.'

Now the words nistraigunya and traigunya are being discussed. In shreemad-Bhaagavatam (11.25.23-29) it is said:

mad-arpanam nishphalam vaa / saattvikam nija-karma tat raajasam phala-sankalpam / himsaa-praayaadi-taamasam
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.23

Know that nishkaama-karma offered to shree Bhagavaan is in sattvaguna. That action which is performed with a desire for the fruit is in rajo-guna, while action performed with violence or envy is in tamo-guna.

In the above sloka (shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.23) nishphalam vaa implies naimittika-karma (work which is occasional), performed without fruitive desires.

kaivalyam saattvikam jnaanam / rajo vaikalpikam ca yat praakritam taamasam jnaanam / man-nishtham nirgunam smritam
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.24

Jnaana related to the self (kaivalyam) which is beyond the conception of the body, is saattvika. Jnaana related to the body (the false conception of 'I' and 'mine', considering oneself to be the doer and the enjoyer) is raajasika. Jnaana of inert matter, the mundane world or the body is taamasika, while jnaana related to Me is nirguna.

vanam tu saattviko vaaso / graamo raajasa ucyate taamasam dyuta-sadanam / man-niketam tu nirgunam 
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.25

To live in the forest is in sattva-guna, to live in the village is in rajo-guna, to live in a gambling house (city) is in tamo-guna and to live where I live (the temple) is nirguna.

saattvikah kaarako 'sangee / raagaandho raajasah smritah taamasah smriti-vibhrashto / nirguno mad-apaasrayah
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.26

The doer who is not attached to the result is in sattva-guna, the doer who is blinded by attachment is in rajo-guna, the doer who has lost his memory is in tamo-guna and the doer who has taken complete shelter of Me is nirguna.

saattviky aadhyaatmikee sraddhaa / karma-sraddhaa tu raajasee taamasy adharme yaa sraddhaa / mat-sevaayaam tu nirgunaa 
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.27

Faith related to the self is in sattva-guna, faith related to karma (action) is in rajo-guna, faith related to irreligious activities is in tamo-guna and faith related to My service is nirguna.

pathyam putam anaayas tam / aahaaryam saattvikam smritam raajasam cendriya-preshtham / taamasam caarttidaasuci
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.28

Food which is wholesome, pure and easily available is in sattvaguna. Food which is pungent, sour and gives pleasure to the senses is in rajo-guna. Food which is impure and the cause of misery is in tamo-guna and that food which is offered to Me is nirguna.

According to shreela shreedhara Svaamee, the word ca in the above mentioned sloka (shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.28) means that that which is offered to shree Bhagavaan is nirguna.

saattvikam sukham aatmottham / vishayottham tu raajasam taamasam moha-dainyottham / nirgunam mad-apaasrayam
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.29

Happiness which comes from the self is in sattva-guna, that which comes from sense objects is in rajo-guna, that which comes from delusion and depravity is in tamo-guna and that happiness which comes in relation to Me is nirguna.

After explaining objects which exemplify the three gunas in the above-mentioned shreemad-Bhaagavatam slokas (11.25.2329), shree Bhagavaan further explains how to attain perfection in realizing the nature (nistraigunya-bhaava) of an object which is beyond the three gunas (nirguna-vastu). He says that only by performing nirgunaa-bhakti can one conquer the influence of the gunas that exist within oneself. This is stated in the following slokas:

dravyam desah phalam kaalo / jnaanam karma ca kaarakah sraddhaavasthaakritir nishthaa / traigunyah sarva eva hi
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.30

Everything material such as the substance, place, results, time, knowledge, action, the agent, faith, situation, form and determination are all traigunya.

sarve guna-mayaa bhaavaah / purushaavyakta-dhishthitaah drishtam srutam anudhyaatam / buddhyaa vaa purusharshabha
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.31

O best of human beings, whatever states of being that are heard, seen or conceived, which exist between the purusha (the enjoying self) and prakriti (material nature), are comprised of the three modes of nature.

etaah samsritayah pumso / guna-karma-nibandhanaah yeneme nirjitaah saumya / gunaa jeevena citta-jaah bhakti-yogena man-nishtho / mad-bhaavaaya prapadyate
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.25.32

O gentle one, all material conditions of the living entity (purusha) are born from action performed in the three gunas. Only those jeevas who, by practising bhakti-yoga, have conquered these modes manifested in the citta become endowed with nishthaa and are able to attain Me.

Therefore, only by nirgunaa-bhakti can one conquer the three gunas and not by any other means. In response to the question asked in Geetaa (14.21): katham caitaams treen gunaan ativartate, "How can one conquer the gunas of material nature?" Then it is said later in Geetaa (14.26):

maam ca yo 'vyabhicaarena / bhakti-yogena sevate sa gunaan samateetyaitaan / brahma-bhuyaaya kalpate

Only those who render service to Me with aikaantika bhakti-yoga can transcend the three gunas and become qualified to realise brahma.

In his commentary on this sloka (Geetaa 14.26) shreela shreedhara Svaamee says, "Ca is an emphatic. That is, those who exclusively perform aikaantika-bhakti (unflinching devotional service) to Me, Paramesvara, can conquer all the gunas."


Dharma, artha, kaama and moksha are called catur-varga (the four goals of human life). Bhakti is the fifth goal (pancamapurushaartha). Although in saastras such as the Vedas the paths of karma, jnaana and bhakti have been instructed as the saadhana for the jeevas, one can only attain shree Bhagavaan by giving up all other paths and engaging exclusively in visuddhaabhakti. This is also made clear by studying these two slokas from shreemad-Bhaagavatam:

bhaktyaaham ekayaa graahyah / sraddhayaatmaa priyah sataam bhaktih punaati man-nishthaa / sva-paakaan api sambhavaat shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.14.21

I can only be attained through bhakti performed with full faith. I am naturally dear to My bhaktas who take Me as the exclusive goal of their bhajana. Even the dog-eaters can purify themselves of their lower birth by performing bhajana to Me.

na saadhayati maam yogo / na saankhyam dharma uddhava na svaadhyaayas tapas tyaago / yathaa bhaktir mamorjitaa
shreemad-Bhaagavatam 11.14.20

O Uddhava! Yoga, saankhya, study of the Vedas, tapasyaa and daana (charity) cannot overpower Me as does intense bhakti performed solely to attain Me.

Shreela Bhaktivinoda Thaakura says, "In saastra there are two types of subjects: uddishta and nirddishta. The subject which is the highest objective of any saastra is called uddishta-vishaya. That instruction which indicates uddishta-vishaya is called nirddishtavishaya. For example, because it is so dim, it is very difficult to see the Arundhati star in the sky without assistance. If someone's objective is to see it, he must first take an indication from the biggest star closest to it. So, if Arundhati is the uddishta-vishaya, the biggest star closest to it is the nirddishtavishaya. All the Vedas indicate nirguna-tattva to be the uddishtavishaya. Because nirguna-tattva cannot be understood immediately, the Vedas first describe saguna-tattva (reality with the gunas) which is the nirddishta-vishaya. Thus, maayaa, consisting of the three modes, sattva, rajas and tamas, initially appears to be the subject matter of the Vedas. 'O Arjuna, do not remain entangled in this nirddishta-vishaya. Rather, attain nirguna-tattva, or that which is indicated to be the uddishtatattva, and become free from the gunas. Some parts of the Vedic literatures describe karma in rajo-guna and tamo-guna. Other parts describe jnaana in sattva-guna, and in specific places there is a description of nirguna-bhakti. You should attain nitya-sattva (pure spiritual existence) by becoming free from dualities such as honour and dishonour. In other words, by associating with My bhaktas, renounce the endeavour for yoga (acquisition) and kshema (preservation) sought after by the processes of jnaana and karma and, by the process of buddhiyoga, become free from the modes of nature.'"