Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. In Bg. 2.15, Krishna states that “the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.” Since a person who is not disturbed by such things is, in one sense, already liberated, what kind of liberation is Krishna referring to?

A. This verse speaks of the fruit of tolerance, the subject of the previous verse. One who practices tolerance is eligible for liberation. Thus Krishna offers considerable impetus for a life of tolerance, which might otherwise be hard to swallow. In this verse Krishna mentions self-realization for the first time in the Gita. He is only beginning to shed light on the concept of liberation.

However, there are two types of liberation implicit in the Bhagavad-gita: jivan mukti and videha mukti. A jivanmukta is one who is liberated while in this world, one whose body has not yet expired. Both jnanis and bhaktas can experience this. Videha mukti refers to the liberated condition attained after one’s body passes. The latter is a more advanced stage of liberation, the finality of the soul’s progress in eternity. Although in Vaisnavism this finality is dynamic. Further consideration must be given to the raga marg devotees, who take birth in Krishna lila upon attaining the stage of svarupa siddhi, and from there advance further to vastu siddhi in Krishna’s nitya lila.

Q. Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita says if there is a war the family traditions will be destroyed and varna sankara will increase. It seems Krishna does not address this point. He only says the wise don’t lament and that Arjuna is lamenting like a non-Aryan. To lament for the destruction of the family is a non-Aryan concern? As a ksatriya, wasn’t it Arjuna’s duty to be concerned about this?

A. Krishna first raises the argument to the level of the soul. Then he returns to reply to Arjuna’s arguments on the level of Dharma sastra in verse 31. The gist of all of this is that we are not the body to begin with. Secondly, in consideration of Dharma, Arjuna should fight. Even though it may appear that fighting will incur evil, the fact is that by not fighting Arjuna will do greater harm. We should follow dharma even when it appears that by doing so the result will not be auspicious. Trust in sastra. This is the idea.

My commentary on Bg. 2.11 may be helpful.

“The Lord of Sri said: ‘While speaking learned words, you lament for those not worthy of lamentation. The wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.’ “

In Paramatma-sandarbha, Jiva Goswami points to the concurrence between this verse and Krishna’s concluding verse in chapter eighteen. These two verses mark the beginning and end of the Gita in terms of Krishna’s instructions to Arjuna. From these two verses one can surmise the essence of the entire text. In both verses Krishna tells us, “Don’t lament, don’t worry” (na anusocanti/ma sucah). Mental energy expended on worrying would be better spent in remembering Bhagavan, our maintainer, protector, and perfect object of love.

One may question why remorse for the loss of loved ones is not appropriate, for this is seen even in great souls. Anticipating that Arjuna might argue in this direction in the face of the strong possibility that his dear ones might depart, Krishna says, “gatasun,” in reference to the departed. They should not be lamented for by one who is in knowledge (pandita), for such persons should be aware that the departed have, as the word gatasun implies, merely gone elsewhere, as they do even in embodied life.

Although great persons are seen to lament at times, this is merely the expression of their manifest (prarabdha) karma exhausting itself, while they themselves know better and remain situated in knowledge of the nature of the self. The manifest karma of great souls expires without diminishing their greatness. However, it is not that which we should emulate, for this is not what they teach us.

In this verse spiritual education begins appropriately with the first letter in the Sanskrit alphabet “a,” (asocyan) requiring Krishna to contract his smile in pronouncing it as he sobers to explain the ABCs of spiritual life. He tells Arjuna that he should not lament for the gross or subtle body, as it has no life or permanence, nor should he lament for the soul, which although worthy of affection, does not die. Krishna will refute Arjuna’s arguments from the religious scriptures (dharma-sastra) by citing scripture dealing with experiential spiritual life (jnana-sastra, the Upanishads).

Thus after first dismissing Arjuna’s questions, Krishna brings the discussion to a higher level in the next nineteen verses, after which he will digress and actually address Arjuna’s socioreligious concerns beginning with verse thirty.

Bhagavad-gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy by Swami B. V. Tripurari is available here.

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