Bhagavad Gita was written between B.C. 200-400 years; it means “The Song of the Creator”, “Holly Song”. Actually, it is a part of the Mahabharata Epic written by Vyasa. Mahabharata is a very long text and so not everybody can read it. Therefore, Bhagavad Gita had come out of Mahabharata for one finding his own self, for understanding the Infinite, wisdom, dharma and gained meaning (reached significance) additionally to lead the way for one’s existence. It consists of 18 chapters and 700 verses.
Bhagavad Gita narrates the war for the kingdom between two families who are related; Pandavas and Kauravas. Pandavas, the sons of Pandu Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula ve Sahadeva. And Kauravas; the sons of Dhritarashtra; Duryodhana and his 99 brothers and Karna.
The problems between these cousins had been going on for years had not come to an end. And as a result of all these, the two families found themselves at “Kurukshetra” waiting for fighting each other. The most important warrior of Pandavas, the great archer Arjuna who belongs to the Kshatriya (Warrior) cast, when he sees his relatives, acquaintances, people he loves against him, and thinking about the blood to be shed, he became very emotional. He sat on the seat of his chariot leaving his bow and arrows, his mind full of sorrow. He was thinking “Instead of causing my loved ones to die, I prefer to give up on this war or to be killed.”
His chariot driver is Deva Krishna. When he had seen the state of Arjuna, the way he is trying to get away from his dharma, the epic talk between Krishna and Arjuna, a deva and a human, the knower and seeker that composes Bhagavad Gita starts.
In this talk, many topics like the source of eternity, jiva (living beings), dharma, karma, Prakriti (the nature of matter), Kala (time) had been mentioned.
To understand Krishna is to understand the cosmic manifestation, source of eternity, the nature of matter, the time factor, the living beings and the relationship between all these; to understand everything.
This amazing epic could be understood fully when all of it has been read and in fact when Mahabharata Epic which Bhagavad Gita is a part of is read. But of course, even Bhagavad Gita is read by itself only, one would reach valuable knowledge. For now, let’s take a look at Bhagavad Gita over a few parts that talks about death, essence and yoga.
“He who thinks that the living entity is the slayer or that he is slain does not understand. The self slays not nor is slain.”
2.11 The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.
śrī bhagavān uvāça
aśoçyān anvaśoças tvaṁ prajñā vādānś ça bhāṣase
gatāsūn agatāsūnś ça nānuśoçanti paṇḍitāḥ
2.12 Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.
na tvevāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na çaiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayamataḥ param
2.13 As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.
dehino ’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
2.16. Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent there is no endurance, and of the existent, there is no cessation. This seers have concluded by studying the nature of both.
nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayorapi dṛiṣṭo ’nta stvanayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
2.17. Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.
avināśi tu tadviddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
vināśam avyayasyāsya na kaśçit kartum arhati
2.18. Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata.
antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ
anāśino ’prameyasya tasmād yudhyasva bhārata
2.19. He who thinks that the living entity is the slayer or that he is slain, does not understand. One who is in knowledge knows that the self slays not nor is slain.
ya enaṁ vetti hantāraṁ yaś çainaṁ manyate hatam
ubhau tau na vijānīto nāyaṁ hanti na hanyate
2.20. For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
na jāyate mriyate vā kadāçin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
2.30. O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature.
dehī nityam avadhyo ’yaṁ dehe sarvasya bhārata
tasmāt sarvāṇi bhūtāni na tvaṁ śochitum arhasi
In this part, Krishna explains that there is no death for the wise and the true nature of death to Arjuna who does not want to follow his dharma and kill the people on the other side even though he is a warrior.
He explains that the eternal entity that abodes in the body would leave the body when the time comes and abodes in another body; he explains reincarnation.
And no matter what, this entity could not be hurt. For one who doesn’t understand this birth and death is inevitable. Whereas for one who is in knowledge knows there is no one who kills or who is killed. Therefore wise doesn’t grieve for anyone. And there is also no rebirth for the wise.
“Listen to the knowledge of yoga whereby one works without fruitive result. O son of Prtha, when you act by such intelligence, you can free yourself from the bondage of works.”
2.38. Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat—and, by so doing, you shall never incur sin.
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyas
2.39. Thus far I have declared to you the analytical knowledge of Sankhya philosophy. Now listen to the knowledge of yoga whereby one works without fruitive result. O son of Prtha, when you act by such intelligence, you can free yourself from the bondage of works.
eṣā te ’bhihitā sānkhye
buddhir yoge tvimāṁ śṛiṇu
buddhyā yukto yayā pārtha
2.40. In this endeavor, there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.
nehābhikrama-nāśho ’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate
svalpam apyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt
2.48. Be steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna. Perform your duty and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.
yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga uchyate
Here, Krishna talks about the actions to Arjuna and how he can purify his actions by following the teachings of yoga. When one can reach the mind control that results in him being indifferent to both pain and pleasure then that person goes beyond duality. And through this, his actions become pure and don’t create karma anymore. Each exertion on the path of yoga comes up with a result. The mind becomes steady. And only a steady mind can be indifferent to objects and be free from attachments. And a result of all these, the person remains the same in success and failure; no matter what the situation is, it doesn’t create feelings for that person. To remain same in any situation is yoga.