Number of verses: 41 – 78
Introduction: This narrative, marks the end of the conversation between Krishna and his disciple-friend Arjuna, on the battle-field that day. In this chapter, Krishna talks to Arjuna about the roots and the basis of the Hindu Caste-system and how duties have been designated under these four castes based on the inherent characteristics of men born in them.
Further, Krishna touches a little upon the topic of karma as he had elaborately described earlier (chapter 2 of the Gita) by stating firmly that performance of one’s own duties, even if sloppily, is much better than the dexterous performance of someone else’s.
He moves on to explain to Arjuna, even when not asked, about the characteristics and symptoms of men who eventually unite with him on the path of devotion. Such men think of Krishna, even when they may not know it themselves and have chosen to shun physical pleasures and sensory gratification, with a single-minded goal of uniting with the supreme power. This they have managed with the help of Krishna’s divine consciousness or bhakti-yoga, he claims.
Towards the end, he makes a promise to his friend Arjuna, of taking care of him in this world and the next, if only Arjuna should seek his refuge without a trace of doubt, malice and hesitation. No one is dearer to him that a pure devotee, Krishna claims, once again highlighting the superiority of bhakti or devotion over any other form of knowledge or spiritual advancement.
In the end, when all doubts in Arjuna’s mind have been dispelled and he is ready to fight the war against his kith and kin in the name of righteousness, Krishna makes a promise to all those who will carry this knowledge forward by spreading its magical contents among the believers and also to those, who with a pure mind and open ears shall bask in the glory of its contents.
He shall take personal care of all such people, he promises.
What more could one want?
Krishna to Arjuna:
The duties of the four castes – the Brahmins (the priestly class), Kshatriyas (the warrior class), Vaishyas (the trader class) and the Shudras (the helper class) have been determined on the basis of their inherent nature.
The following are the chief characteristics of the Brahmins – calmness, self-restraint, purity, knowledge, intellect, truthfulness and faith.
The following are the chief attributes of the Kshatriyas – valour, determination, presence of mind, charity, leadership and administrative ability.
Agriculture, raising of cattle and trade are the primary duties of a Vaishya. The primary function of a Shudra is to serve the other three castes above him.
That human who is engaged in performing the duty designated to him eventually attains salvation. Now hear from me about it in detail.
That supreme Lord from who this very world and all its living beings have stemmed, can be attained by different human beings by the performance of duties designated for the caste in which he has been born.
Better than the dexterous performance of another man’s job, is the sloppy performance of one’s own duties. For that man who is forever engaged in the performance of his own work never acquires sin in the course of his work.
O Arjuna! Just as fire always remains shrouded with black smoke, all deeds and action in this world is covered with sin of some kind. Therefore, one’s own designated duty, however sinful, must never be abandoned.
The purest reward of renunciation, sanyasa, can be attained simply by self-control, self-restraint, renunciation of desire for physical objects, and the abandonment of physical pleasures. This is the pinnacle of reward from sanyasa.
O Arjuna! Hear from me about how spiritually advanced individuals reach the zenith of spiritual bliss.
The man who with a pure mind and a spiritual thought-process, succeeds in controlling his mind, and in this manner, renounces all sensory objects of physical pleasure, frees himself of the dualities of attachment (raaga) and abhorrence (dwesha), eats only the required quantities of food in a clean, silent place, controls his thoughts and speech, remains occupied in the thought of spiritual communion with the ultimate power, manages to renounce false human ego, the illusion of power, lust and anger and having shunned the pleasure he once derived from the collection and accumulation of physical possessions, becomes tranquil and calm, definitely manages to discover the supreme light in his own being, in this very life.
This illumined man experiences the divine bliss at all times in this current life. He neither grieves, longs nor desires. He maintains compassion and equanimity towards all beings. In this state of consciousness, he attains the pristine consciousness I grant to devotees, the bhakti-yoga.
The Bhakti-yoga or the divine consciousness is the very tool with which a man can comprehend the complete nature of my supreme presence, the brahman. Having known me thus, such a man immediately enters my abode of no return, the vaikuntha.
That devotee who in my name and my for my sake, keeps himself occupied with the performance of his daily duties, with no desire to benefit from its outcome (the karma-yogi), eventually unites with me.
Being placed in bhakti-yoga, such a devotee thinks of me twenty-four hours in a day and surrenders from the depth of his heart, all his being and all he does to my name and benefit.
Men who thus surrender to me, gain the necessary spiritual power to sail through the worst nightmares this life has to offer. However, those who out of ego and false pride, do not heed my words and do not acquire the skill of working and acting with selflessness are eventually destroyed.
Know this Arjuna, it is your pride that eludes you to believe that you choose to not fight this battle, even against my wish or recommendation. The truth is that this determination of yours is but an illusion. Your very nature, your own being, will eventually push you into fighting this war.
O son of Kunti! The same act that you do not wish to perform out of mere delusion and your massive sense of ego, even at my recommendation, you will end up doing because of the compulsion that your own mind will create.
O Arjuna! The supreme light, the creator, dwells in the heart of all each living being there is. It is that divine and magical force that at all times, is responsible for dictating what each being, encased in a physical body, does and performs.
O Arjuna! In every manner possible, go seek the refuge of that light that shines within you. It is only with the will and blessing of that divine power, that you will ever manage to attain eternal peace and divine communion.
So far I have narrated only for your sake my dear friend, this super-confidential spiritual knowledge. Having known this now, brood over it and then decide for yourself, what you deem fit.
Of all that I have told you so far, I will summarise for your benefit, the most important and powerful bit of information. You are very dear to me Arjuna, and thus, I repeat myself.
Every day and at all times, think of me with immeasurable love and surrender your life to me. Think of me and worship me alone. In this manner, you will finally arrive at my doorstep, and I make this promise to you dear friend, for you are one of those I hold most dear to myself.
Shun all your faith and all other beliefs, and come into my arms my friend! Do not worry when you have me – I will take care of you and redeem you of everything that is not auspicious.
Never narrate this confidential spiritual knowledge to a man who has not yet acquired control over his mind, or an atheist who cares not to hear this, or a man with no devotion at all and even to one who abhors me or my name.
The man who spreads the secrets of this poem I narrated to you, the Gita, among believers, shall without a trace of doubt, be blessed with the power of devotion that I shall confer on him (bhakti-yoga) and this man will finally, return to me, back in my arms.
There is no other devotee dearer to me than this man, in all the worlds there are, and shall never be.
It is my declaration today that any man who will revisit this sacred conversation of the Gita, as it takes place between you and me today, I shall bless with knowledge that will help him find me.
Also for those men who without doubt, hesitation and malice, will hear these sacred words of the Gita, with devotion and belief, shall be reborn in the planets of wise men, having ridden themselves of all sins.
O Arjuna! Have you heard these words of mine with complete attention and have these succeeded in dispelling the doubt and ignorance in your mind?
Arjuna to Krishna:
O Krishna! O Achyuta! Thanks to your narrative, all my doubts are now dissolved and I have regained my good sense. I now stand here clear in my head, determined to carry out what you ask of me.
Sanjaya to Dhritrashtra:
In this manner, I managed to hear this fabulous and exciting conversation between two saints – Krishna and his disciple Arjuna.
Thanks to this blessing received from Sage Vyasa, I have managed to enrich myself with this spiritual revelation by none other than the supreme Lord Shri Krishna to his friend and disciple Arjuna.
O King! As I recall the magical conversation between Krishna and Arjuna that I have just finished narrating to you, my hair stands on end. The memory seems to excite me more and more with every passing moment.
O King! The memory of that magnanimous form of Lord Krishna gives me goose-bumps. I can barely control my happiness each time I think of his almost surreal form.
Where co-exist the master of illusion and magic, Krishna and also his archer-friend Arjuna, shall belong all the riches and prosperity of the world, and also all things good – fame, victory, mental power and the strategy of the winner. This is my opinion.
Image taken from Google images
“The Bhagavad Gita As It Is”, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
I am glad I could finish the task, even when not so much on time.
A heartfelt thanks to Krishna for helping with the translation from Hindi to English.
 These four represent the four categories spelled out by the Indian Caste system or varna system. These four castes are further divided into sub-castes (jaati) and sub-sub-castes (varnas).
Of course, over time, the caste system has become a social evil, a system whose roots are too deep to dig into and get rid of.
 Here Krishna probably talks about the power that the supreme Lord can exercise on the minds of human beings who choose not to comply with his wish.
 Literally, ‘the incomparable one’ or one that is one of his kind.