Vedas deal with the three attributes of nature. Be thou above these three
attributes, Oh Arjuna. Free yourself from the pairs of opposites and ever remain in the
quality of sattva, free from the thoughts of acquisition and preservation, and be
established in the self.
To the brahmana who has known the self, all the Vedas are of as much use as is a reservoir of water in a place where there is a flood.
These two are tricky verses! The Vedas (the ancient scriptures and the modern scientific scriptures, too!) deal with the created universe. We should go beyond them, i.e., the three qualities of nature (inertia, dynamism and goodness). But, Krishna wants us ever to remain in the quality of goodness! That is: be above even that, but now of your own choice and not out of compulsion, be good. Do not treat goodness as a passport to heaven or as a testimonial needed for a good living, or even as a sound policy, but as something you wish to be and to do, because evil is foolish and dangerous.
The second verse has a double meaning! The universe and the scriptures dealing with it are of no use to the sage of self-realization. Or:
Do we not find that in a place flooded by water, we cannot use it for drinking? A reservoir is still useful, and has its limited use. Even so, the sage of self-realization would still use the Vedas and modern science in their own limited spheres of utility, realizing that self-realization is infinitely superior to these. He is carefree for he has no desires. He is not anxious to acquire anything in particular or to preserve what he has. Where is the good in clinging to passing shadows? He holds, without a sense of possession! If you abandon all care concerning yogaksema (acquisition and preservation - material welfare), and if you are totally devoted to God, he takes care of you! (Cf. IX: 22).
Web Editor's Notes