Gita Daily Readings

25th January
Chapter
II: 18
These bodies of the embodied self, who is eternal, indestructible and immeasurable, are said to have an end. Therefore fight, Oh Arjuna.

Commentary

What was the need for all this discourse on the nature of the self to make Arjuna fight? Was it not enough to point out that it was his duty as a prince?

No. It would only be putting off the evil day. Arjuna was neither weak nor effeminate. He was gudakesha and paramtapa - one who had successfully combated sleep and lethargy (internal foes) and also all his external enemies among whom were gods! He had full command even over the involuntary functions of his body and could sleep or remain awake as he pleased. He was a wise and learned man, too, yet even he was overcome by grief.

Grief is born of ignorance of the nature of the self and of maya or illusion, and also born of the false identification (confusion) of the self with the not-self (which includes the world, body, mind and senses). Your mind indulges in a peculiar double trick. It looks for reality because it thinks you are different from the truth. Having dissected yourself from reality mentally, suddenly you think that "I am the body." This is what they call "maya," illusion, born of ignorance. Arjuna's collapse on the battlefield was the best opportunity for Krishna to uproot this tree of ignorance.

This can be applied to our own life, too. We suffer again and again only because we do not go to the root of the problem but remain satisfied with makeshift solutions. The wise man need suffer only once. His wisdom will seek the root and destroy it there. Thus he will never suffer again.

Do the "bodies" have an "end"? Does matter come to an end, annihilation? They are "said to have an end"! Popular belief can often be illogical or unscientific - and it may be unnecessary, futile and impossible to uproot such belief. Unless the abandonment of the belief is vital to self-knowledge, any controversy concerning it may at best be diversionary waste of effort and psychological distraction.

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