by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words
The Bhagavad-gita Verse 2.45, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 45 from the chapter 2 called “Sankhya-yoga (Yoga through distinguishing the Soul from the Body)”
Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 2.45:
त्रैगुण्य-विषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्य-सत्त्व-स्थो निर्योग-क्षेम आत्मवान् ॥ ४५ ॥
traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna |
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kṣema ātmavān || 45 ||
trai-guṇya–of the three modes of material nature; viṣayāḥ–subject matter; vedāḥ–all the Vedas; nistraiguṇyaḥ–free from the three modes; bhava–be; arjuna–O Arjuna; nirdvandvaḥ–be free from duality (in the form of mundane honour and dishonour); nitya-sattva-sthaḥ–situated always in pure goodness; niryoga-kṣemaḥ–detached from the tendency to preserve and acquire; ātma-vān–situated in the self (being connected through the intelligence given by Me).
O Arjuna, give up being influenced by the three binding forces of material nature that are described in the Vedas and become established in transcendence, which is beyond them. Be free from all dualities, such as honour and dishonour, and do not be concerned about acquiring assets or maintaining what you have. Become situated in spiritual existence by using the intelligence awarded by Me.
Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā
“Becoming detached from the means to attain the four materialistic pursuits of religiosity (dharma), wealth (artha), sense gratification (kāma) and liberation (mokṣa), take exclusive shelter of bhakti-yoga.” With this intention, Śrī Bhagavān is speaking this verse beginning with traiguṇya, because the Vedas predominantly illuminate the subject matters of karma, jñāna, etc., which are composed of the three modes of material nature, otherwise called the guṇas. The meaning of the word traiguṇya is formed by adding the suffix ṣyañ.
In the Vedas, there are excessive descriptions of karma and jñāna, according to the logic of bhūmnā-vyapadeśā-bhavanti, wherein the title of a work is based on what is prominent in its composition. The Vedas are therefore called traiguṇya (pertaining to the three modes of nature). Only bhakti, however, can take one to Śrī Bhagavān. This is the verdict of the Māṭhara Śruti. The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad states: “yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau–the meaning of the Vedas can only be revealed to one who has the same transcendental devotion to both Śrī Bhagavān and to one’s spiritual master.”
Devotion that is free from the contamination of material nature is the only subject matter of the Smṛtis, such as the Pañcarātra and the Upaniṣads. This includes the Gītopaniṣad (Bhagavad-gītā) and the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad. If it were accepted that bhakti is not described in the Vedas, bhakti would become unauthoritative. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa directs Arjuna to become free from the Vedic injunctions promoting jñāna and karma, which are under the influence of the modes of material nature. 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 Brahma-yāmala Purāṇa, “The pretentious display of exclusive devotion to Śrī Hari, in which the process of pañcarātra (ritualistic worship) recommended in scriptures such as the Śrutis, the Smṛtis and the Purāṇas is neglected, results only in eventual disturbance.” This mistake, or fault, is inexcusable.
Those subject matters of the Vedas that pertain to the modes of material nature (saguṇa) and those that are beyond the modes of material nature (guṇātīta) are called respectively traiguṇya (within the three guṇas) and nistraiguṇya (free from the three guṇas). Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “Of the two, pursue only nistraiguṇya. Become free from the three guṇas by the influence of My nirguṇā-bhakti. Only then will you become free from dualities such as honour and dishonour. Therefore, remain exclusively in the association of My devotees who are always situated in eternal transcendence.”
Here, the explanation of how to become situated in pure tran-scendence (viśuddha-sattva-guṇa) will contradict the explanation on becoming free from the three modes of material nature. To achieve that which is lacking is called yoga, and to protect that which one possesses is called kṣema. By the word niryoga-kṣema, Śrī Bhagavān is telling Arjuna to become free from the concern for both yoga and kṣema. “Upon becoming overpowered by a taste for My bhakti-rasa, achieving both that which is lacking (yoga) and protecting that which one possesses (kṣema) will not be a cause for concern.” Śrī Bhagavān states in the Gītā (9.22), “I personally carry what My devotee lacks and I preserve what he has.” He is displaying His affection for His devotees by stating, “Because I carry the burden of their maintenance, there is no need for them to separately endeavour for it.” Ātmavān means ‘become a person endowed with intelligence granted by Me’.
Now the words nistraiguṇya and traiguṇya are being discussed. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.25.23–29) it is said:
Know that action offered to Śrī Bhagavān without the desire to enjoy the fruits (niṣkāma-karma) is in the mode of goodness. That action which is performed with a desire for the fruit is in the mode of passion, while action performed with violence or envy is in the mode of ignorance.
In the above verse (11.25.23) niṣphalaṃ vā implies that occasional duties (naimittika-karma) are performed without fruitive desires.
Knowledge related to the self, which is beyond the conception of the body, is knowledge in the mode of goodness. Knowledge related to the body, which, through the false conception of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, one considers oneself to be the doer and the enjoyer, is in the mode of passion. Knowledge of inert matter, the mundane world or the body is in the mode of ignorance, while knowledge related to Me is transcendental, beyond the modes of material nature.
To live in the forest is in the mode of goodness, to live in the village is in the mode of passion, to live in a gambling house is in the mode of ignorance and to live where I live (the temple) is transcendental, beyond the modes of nature.
The doer who is not attached to the result of his action is in the mode of goodness, the doer who is blinded by attachment is in the mode of passion, the doer who has lost his memory is in the mode of ignorance, and the doer who has taken complete shelter of Me is transcendental.
Faith related to the self is in the mode of goodness, faith related to action is in the mode of passion, faith related to irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, and faith related to My service is transcendental.
Food that is wholesome, pure and easily available is in the mode of goodness, food that is pungent, sour and gives pleasure to the senses, is in the mode of passion. Food that is impure and the cause of misery is in the mode of ignorance, and that food that is offered to Me is transcendental.
sāttvikaṃ sukham ātmotthaṃ viṣayotthaṃ tu rājasam
tāmasaṃ moha-dainyotthaṃ nirguṇaṃ mad-apāśrayam
Happiness that comes from the self is in the mode of goodness, happiness that comes from sense objects is in the mode of passion, happiness that comes from delusion and depravity is in the mode of ignorance, and happiness that comes in relation to Me is transcendental.
After explaining objects that exemplify the three modes of material nature, in the above-mentioned Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verses (11.25.23–29), Śrī Bhagavān further explains how to attain perfection in realizing the nature of an object that is beyond the three guṇas. He says that only by performing bhakti that is beyond the modes of material nature (nirguṇā-bhakti) can one conquer the influence of the modes, or guṇas, that exist within oneself.
This is stated in the following verses:
Everything material, such as the substance, place, results, time, knowledge, action, the agent, faith, situation, form and determination, are all within the jurisdiction of the three modes of material nature.
O best of human beings, whatever states of being that are heard, seen or conceived of that exist between the puruṣa (the enjoying self) and prakṛti (material nature) are comprised of the three modes of nature.
O gentle one, all the material conditions of the living entity are born from action performed in the three modes of nature. Only those living entities who, by practising bhakti-yoga, have conquered these modes become endowed with niṣṭhā, or steadiness of mind, and are able to attain Me.
Therefore, only by bhakti that is beyond the modes of nature can one conquer the three modes of nature. This is not possible by any other means. In response to the question asked in the Gītā (14.21) “kathaṃ caitāṃs trīn guṇān ativartate–how can one conquer the three modes of material nature?” it is later said in the Gītā (14.26):
māṃ ca yo’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
Only those who render service to Me with one-pointed devotion can transcend the three modes of nature and become qualified to realize transcendence.
In his commentary on this verse (Gītā 14.26) Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says, “Ca is emphatic. That is, those who exclusively perform unblemished and unflinching devotional service to Me, the Supreme controller, or Parameśvara, can conquer the modes of material nature.”
Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti
The four materialistic pur-suits of religiosity (dharma), wealth (artha), sense gratification (kāma) and liberation (mokṣa) are called catur-varga (the four goals of human life). Bhakti is the fifth goal. Although the Vedic scriptures have described the paths of karma, jñāna and bhakti as various practices for the jīvas, one can only attain Śrī Bhagavān by giving up all other paths and engaging exclusively in pure devotion.
This is also made clear by studying the following two verses from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
I can only be attained through bhakti that is performed with full faith. I am naturally dear to My devotees, who take Me as the exclusive goal of their devotional practices. Even the dog-eaters can purify themselves of their lower birth and ultimately attain Me by performing devotional service to Me.
O Uddhava, yoga, analytical philosophy, study of the Vedas, per-formance of difficult austerities and charity cannot control Me as does exclusive devotion to Me.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, “The scriptures contain two types of subjects: uddiṣṭa and nirdiṣṭa. The highest goal of a scripture is called uddiṣṭa-viṣaya, and the instructions that indicate the uddiṣṭa-viṣaya are called nirdiṣṭa-viṣaya. For example, because the Arundhatī star is so dim, it is very difficult to be seen in the sky without assistance. If someone’s objective is to see it, his indicator will be the biggest star closest to it. So if Arundhatī is the subject, the uddiṣṭa-viṣaya, then the biggest star closest to it is the nirdiṣṭa-viṣaya. All the Vedas indicate that the Absolute Reality beyond the three modes (nirguṇa-tattva) is the subject matter of the Vedas, it is the uddiṣṭa-viṣaya. But because that Absolute Reality cannot be understood immediately, the Vedas first describe saguṇa-tattva, which is the nirdiṣṭa-viṣaya.
“Māyā, consisting of the three modes of nature, namely, goodness, passion and ignorance, initially appears to be the subject matter of the Vedas. Śrī Kṛṣṇa therefore says, ‘O Arjuna, do not remain entangled in this nirdiṣṭa-viṣaya. Rather, attain the transcendental entity, or that which has been indicated to be the real subject matter of the Vedas, the uddiṣṭa-tattva, and become free from the modes of nature. Some parts of the Vedic literatures have prescribed karma based on the modes of passion and ignorance. Other parts prescribe knowledge based on the mode of goodness, and specific parts explain the practice of pure bhakti, which is free from the modes. You should attain pure spiritual existence by becoming free from dualities such as honour and dishonour. In other words, by associating with My devotees, renounce the endeavour for acquisition (yoga) and preservation (kṣema) sought after by the processes of acquiring knowledge and performing prescribed duties, and become free from the modes of nature by the process of buddhi-yoga.’”