tam uvāca hṛṣīkeśa prahasann iva bhārata
senayor ubhayor madhye viṣīdantam idaṁ vacaḥ
“O descendant of Bhārata (Dhṛtarāṣṭra), at that time, Hṛṣīkeśa Śrī Kṛṣṇa, apparently smiling in the midst of both armies, spoke the following words to the grieving Arjuna.”
śrī bhagavān uvāca
aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ
prajṇā-vādāṁś ca bhāṣase
gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca
Śrī Bhagavān said: “Though you are speaking learned words, you lament for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are truly learned lament not for the living nor for the dead.”
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.”
dehino ’smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“Just as the embodied ātmā passes from boyhood to youth to old age, similarly after death he passes into another body. An intelligent person is not bewildered by the birth and death of the body.”
Kṛṣṇa says: “Bhīṣma-pitāmaha, Karṇa, Droṇācārya and the other fighters on the side of the Kauravas will leave their bodies and obtain new bodies, even if you do not fight and kill them.”
Arjuna asked, “Then why should I destroy them myself? Would that be good for me?”
“You are not their destroyer or killer. Their own karma is now complete. They were not meant to remain any longer in this world.”
Before us, there is one physical body that is constituted of the five physical elements. It was not present before, it is present now, and it will not be present in the future. These five elements mix together and make up the body. The soul is inside the body. As long as the soul remains, the body is active, but as soon as the soul leaves, the body is dead.
The cycle of birth and death is always moving on, but intelligent people do not lament over this.
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O Kaunteya, when the senses come in contact with the sense objects, one experiences cold, heat, happiness and distress. Such experiences are flickering and temporary. Therefore O Bhārata, you must learn to tolerate them.”
When a touchstone touches anything, that object becomes gold. When cold touches an object, that object becomes cold. When something very hot touches something, that object is heated. Many temporary things come and affect the body, but intelligent people do not become involved in that or suffer as a result.
Kṛṣṇa asked Arjuna, “How could Bhīṣma die? Things of this world can only touch the body, but not the soul. Sun, light, heat, cold, winter and summer can only touch or affect the body, but not the soul. If anyone follows the rules of dharma they obtain good knowledge and become happy like the autumn or spring seasons. Arjuna, you are the son of Kuntī, everyone in your line follows dharma. Why then are you giving up your dharma as a fighter? During very deep winter one has to go bathe in the early morning even though he doesn’t want to. An intelligent man will do so even against the desires of his senses, knowing that it is necessary to bathe to clean himself. You may think it is harmful to Bhīṣma-pitāmaha and your elders to fight against them, but you must do so because it is your duty; dharma. The wise do not lament for the living nor the slain, for they know the soul is deathless.”
yaṁ hi na vyathayanty ete
so ’mṛtatvāya kalpate
“O best among men, that sober person for whom happiness, distress and the experience of various sense objects are the sa and who is not disturbed by them is certainly qualified to attain liberation.”
Kṛṣṇa said, “If you are not affected by the external disturbances that come to the body, you are qualified to achieve salvation. If you tolerate everything to perform your dharma, that is called goodness. Those who are ignorant and without any knowledge go the wrong way and cannot control themselves. They only think about their own enjoyment. Some people are always fearful. They want to travel somewhere, but they worry, “If I go by car I may get in an accident. If I walk, I may get hit and die. I will not go to the forest, because a snake may bite me. I will not cook in the kitchen, because I may be cut or burned.”
Even if one hides in some protected place day and night, he cannot stop the onset of death. Therefore, the intelligent man will always perform dharma; his duty. If one does not follow his own dharma and does not perform sādhana; spiritual practice, all punishment and suffering will come according to one’s past actions. It cannot be avoided. Therefore, it is proper to perform everything for the sake of dharma.
nāsato vidyate bhāvo
nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
Of the temporary, there is no permanent existence, and of the eternal such as the jīvātmā, there is no destruction. Those who are knowers of the truth have reached this conclusion by deliberating on these subject matters.
A person wakes in the early morning and bathes, despite the desires of his body to remain asleep. Yet because of being strong in following his own dharma, as soon as he begins to act according to his duty, the insignificant desires of the body are cast aside without regard. If one thinks, “No, I will not get up. I want to sleep. I want to enjoy,” this happiness is temporary. For the benefit of the soul, one should perform spiritual practices.
That is what will give permanent help. One should vow, “I will wake early in the morning, bathe and chant. I will attend maṅgala-ārati.”
If one thinks, “I am tired, I will get sick. If I work, my body will be pained.”
Kṛṣṇa says, “No, you must be very strong in your sādhana.”
Kṛṣṇa gave this advice to Arjuna because Arjuna had surrendered as his disciple. Otherwise, Arjuna would not accept His divine advice and would think, “He is speaking this for Himself, not for me. I am more knowledgeable than He. I am a great scholar. He is only narrow-minded, but I am broad-minded.”
Kṛṣṇa instructs Arjuna, “You are only thinking externally, but you do not understand the internal and eternal truth. Be strong in your dharma, then all realization will come. If you act according to your own temporary knowledge, it will only lead you down into darkness. Those who are firm in performing their dharma quickly achieve liberation, crossing māyā. Those who have seen the truth, who are followers of the soul, Supreme Soul and bhakti have explained that the soul is eternal and cannot be destroyed. Winter and summer come and go. Likewise, people are born in this world, live here for some time then die. This is not a permanent place.
“O Arjuna, one is dharma and one is not dharma. You are following the dharma of the temporary physical body which is ordinary, but the soul is eternal. The dharma of the soul is permanent, natural and eternal truth, whereas the dharma of the body is temporary and changing. This body grows to maturity, produces some fruits, suffers the results of karma and disappears after destruction. The dharma of the soul however, does not give any fruits and die, rather it is permanent. If one thinks the body is immortal and cares for it excessively, always worried about it, then he is a foolish man. The body is temporary. That service which helps the body is not helpful to the soul. Worship of the body is not worship of the soul. To acquire knowledge of the soul, one must be very strong.
ke āmi, kene āmāya jāre tāpa-traya
ihā nāhi jāni – kemane hita haya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 20.102
“Who am I? Why do the threefold material miseries always give me trouble? If I do not understand this, how will I be benefited and come to know the ultimate goal of life?”
Sanātana Gosvāmī asked of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “Who am I, why am I suffering in this world?”
The dharma of the body; rules and regulations of the body is on one side, and on the other there are the rules and regulations of the soul and its dharma. That which is truth cannot be destroyed, and that which is temporary is naturally destroyed. It cannot be protected. If one tries to protect the body by keeping it in a safe box, a deep freezer or in the best hospital with the best doctors and surgeons to protect it, the body will not last.
Kṛṣṇa instructs Arjuna, “The dharma of the body is not the dharma of the soul. The body has many fires and desires, but none are the desires of the soul. The soul is another thing. Therefore, don’t follow the nature and urges of the body – follow the soul.”