Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2, Sloka 20

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 20


It is not born, nor does it die. After having been, it does not cease to be; unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient. It is not killed when the body is destroyed.


The neutral gender “it” is used to refer to “that” which is not the “physical body.”

“It” refers to the “atman” (soul).

Chapter 2, verse 18, Kathopanisad talks of six modifications to the physical body from the time it is born. They are:

Jayate: born

Asti: exists

Vardhate: grows

Parinamate: modifies, changes

Apaksiyate: wears

Vinasyati: is destroyed.

In this sloka the Lord is using the two words “Jayate and Mriyate.” It means “Birth and death.”

At the time of death, the gross body perishes. The subtle body with the mind, intellect and the atman enters the subtle world of “Moola Prakriti.” Parabrahman gives it a new body which goes through all the modifications mentioned above. On death of the gross physical body, again as decided by the Lord, the subtle body enters the “Moola Prakriti” and awaits further births again.

All through this process of births and deaths, the atman inside the subtle body is a constant factor. The gross body is the changing factor. We attribute birth and death to the physical body and the term does not apply to the atman. The atman is encased in the subtle body and will continue to be so till the individual finally realises the Lord, drops the attachment to the physical body and the world around. This is the “Salvation” (Moksha).

There is therefore no birth or death to the atman. The changes we notice are only applicable to the physical body.

This is all in relation to “past, present and future.” This body was not present in the past, is present now and will not be there in the future. The physical body is therefore said to be “not eternal.”

Contrary to it, the atman inside the subtle body was present in the past, is present in the physical body now and will have new body tomorrow. This will stop only when one attains “Salvation.” Hence, the atman is comparatively “eternal.” When the physical body goes through the changes from babyhood to old age, the atman inside will remain the same and does not change.

Sri Krishna is letting Arjuna know that the warriors getting killed in the war are only the physical bodies and not the subtle bodies.

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Posted via email from International Gita Foundation Trust