Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2, Sloka 39

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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sloka 39

yesha tebi hita samkhye buddhiyoge tvimam shrunu
buddhya yukto yaya partha karma bandham prahasyasi

O Arjuna, this, which has been taught to you, is Samkhya yoga, about the Atman. Now listen to karma yoga, having known which, you shall cast off the bondage to work.


We have, in the beginning of this chapter, learnt that the word “Samkhya yoga” means, “complete knowledge.” So far in this chapter we are taught about the identity of the “atman” which is the real entity in us. We must know all about the “atman” because it is the real “us” and without which we are non existent. Just knowing about the atman is not sufficient. We must know how to live in this world.

In our day to day life in this world, what we learn during our earlier days of education from the teachers at educational institutions is “attaining complete knowledge.” With the qualifications achieved, we become eligible to take up work to earn a living.

Life is not just attaining the knowledge.( Jnana) the knowledge has to be used to gain wisdom. (Vijnana) wisdom comes from practical application of the theory. We tend to commit mistakes while putting theory into practice and learn from the mistakes. Perfections in work takes a long time to achieve and rare are those who are totally perfect in all their actions.

In this instance, we are talking about conducting all our daily actions using the knowledge. If the final aim is to attain “moksha”, the actions have to be in the spirit of “no bondage.” Basis has to be acquiring the knowledge first and preparing for the practical living in this world. Getting attached to the work and its results which bring “sukha, dukha” are the causes for bondage. The teaching of the gita is to learn the art of working and in cutting the bondage to work . Sri Krishna says, the cutting of bondage to work is “karma yoga.” No doubt, when we proceed to study more about the sacred text and learn to read it repeatedly, we will learn the true meaning of the word “karma.” From this sloka we are now taken into the summary of karma yoga.

Practical work, putting the theory into practice is “karma yoga”. Sri Krishna has made it abundantly clear in this sloka that we all have to conduct “karma”. We all have to do our obligatory duties, whatever stage of life we may be in. There is no escape from “actions.” Our duty is to learn the secret of karma yoga which is “non attachment.” “Buddhi” is the reasoning capacity that should remind us of this magical word “non attachment.” (karma bandham prahasyasi)

Up to sloka 46, we will get the introduction to karma yoga. It is therefore, still theory only and hence it is to be taken as part of “samkhya yoga.” From sloka 47 we will get into the doctrine of true karma yoga.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at ““.

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