tam uvāca hṛṣīkeśaḥ
prahasann iva bhārata
senayor ubhayor madhye
viṣīdantam idaḿ vacaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.10
O descendant of Bharata, at that time Krishna, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The talk was going on between intimate friends, namely the Hrishikesha and the Gudakesha. As friends, both of them were on the same level, but one of them voluntarily became a student of the other. Krishna was smiling because a friend had chosen to become a disciple. As Lord of all, He is always in the superior position as the master of everyone, and yet the Lord agrees to be a friend, a son, or a lover for a devotee who wants Him in such a role. But when He was accepted as the master, He at once assumed the role and talked with the disciple like the master—with gravity, as it is required. It appears that the talk between the master and the disciple was openly exchanged in the presence of both armies so that all were benefitted. So the talks of Bhagavad-gita are not for any particular person, society, or community, but they are for all, and friends or enemies are equally entitled to hear them.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“You have shown such lack of judgment!” Laughing at him as a friend, Krishna could put Arjuna in an ocean of embarrassment for his unworthy actions. However, because now Arjuna took the position of student, laughing would be improper. Thus Krishna suppressed that laugh by closing his lips. Instead he slightly smiled (prahasann iva). The Lord of the senses (hrsikesa) was previously controlled by the words of Arjuna out of love for him (BG 1.24), and now he became the controller of Arjuna’s mind, again out of love, for the benefit of Arjuna. Arjuna’s dejection and Krishna’s consolation were seen directly by both armies (senayor ubhayor madhye).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.9 – 2.10 Sanjaya said — Thus, the Lord, the Supreme Person, introduced the Sastra regarding the self for the sake of Arjuna — whose natural courage was lost due to love and compassion in a misplaced situation, who thought war to be unrighteous even though it was the highest duty for warriors (Ksatriyas), and who took refuge in Sri Krsna to know what his right duty was —, thinking that Arjuna’s delusion would not come to an end except by the knowledge of the real nature of the self, and that war was an ordained duty here which, when freed from attachment to fruits, is a means for self-knowledge. Thus, has it been said by Sri Yamunacarya: ‘The introduction to the Sastra was begun for the sake of Arjuna, whose mind was agitated by misplaced love and compassion and by the delusion that righteousness was unrighteousness, and who took refuge in Sri Krsna.’ The Supreme Person spoke these words as if smiling, and looking at Arjuna, who was thus overcome by grief resulting from ignorance about the real nature of the body and the self, but was nevertheless speaking about duty as if he had an understanding that the self is distinct from the body, and while he (Arjuna), torn between contradictory ideas, had suddenly become inactive standing between the two armies that were getting ready to fight. Sri Krsna said, as if in ridicule, to Arjuna the words beginning with, ‘There never was a time when I did not exist’ (II. 12), and ending with ‘I will release you from all sins; grieve not!’ (XVIII. 66) — which have for their contents the real nature of the self, of the Supreme Self, and of the paths of work (Karma), knowledge (Jnana) and devotion (Bhakti) which constitute the means for attaining the highest spiritual fulfilment.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
What happened then after this? In answer it is stated: to Arjuna who was lamenting between the two armies the Supreme Lord spoke as if smiling , meaning spoke with a beaming countenance.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna, the resplendent one, situated between the 2 armies, with a slight smile upon His face spoke to the grief stricken Arjuna who was enveloped by the entanglement of fraternal delusion.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In this way although Arjuna had decided to refrain from the battle still Dhritarastra should not expect that the future of his sons was to be bright and happy as long as the Supreme Lord Krishna, the controller of the animate and inanimate who descended personally to destroy the miscreants is present in this world. To emphasize this reality Sanjaya said to him O Bharata referring to his anscestor, the great monarch of all the world King Bharata telling frankly that the joy he is feeling regarding Arjuna’s seemingly abstention from the battle and the termination of the war was not appropriate. Lord Krishna with a subtle smile upon his face then spoke to Arjuna who was lamenting at a most inappropriate time between the 2 opposing armies. The word prahasan meaning smiling is used to subtlely indicate sarcasam and evoke anger at the impropriety of such limpid sensitivity by Arjuna who in his own right is a mighty warrior respected and reknowed by all the mightiest warriors of his time. This smile indicating sarcasm is justified by the use of the word iva as it were indicating that due to the nature of the situation, being the 2 armies immeadiately ready for battle, Arjunas reluctancy and Lord Krishna accepting him as a disciple. So in order to substantiate Arjunas fitness to receive spiritual knowledge this subtle smile is used to remove any lingering vestiges of pride Arjuna might have had regarding his knowledge, intelligence and prowess.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.10 And here, the text commencing from ‘But seeing the army of the Pandavas’ (1.2) and ending with ‘(he) verily became silent, telling Him (Govinda), “I shall not fight”‘ is to be explained as revealing the cause of the origin of the defect in the from of sorrow, delusion, etc. [Delusion means want of discrimination. Etc. stands for the secondary manifestations of sorrow and delusion, as also ignorance which is the root cause of all these.] which are the sources of the cycles of births and deaths of creatures. Thus indeed, Ajuna’s own sorrow and delusion, cuased by the ideas of affection, parting, etc., originating from the erroneous belief, ‘I belong to these; they belong to me’, with regard to kingdom [See note under verse 8.-Tr.], elders, sons, comrades, well-wishers (1.26), kinsmen (1.37), relatives (1.34) and friends, have been shown by him with the words, ‘How can I (fight)…in battle (against) Bhisma’ (4), etc. It is verily because his discriminating insight was overwhelmed by sorrow and delusion that, even though he had become engaged in battle out of his own accord as a duty of the Ksatriyas, he desisted from that war and chose to undertake other’s duties like living on alms etc. It is thus that in the case of all creatures whose minds come under the sway of the defects of sorrow, delusion, etc. there verily follows, as a matter of course, abandoning their own duties and resorting to prohibited ones. Even when they engage in their own duties their actions with speech, mind, body, etc., are certainly motivated by hankering for rewards, and are accompanied by egoism. [Egoism consists in thinking that one is the agent of some work and the enjoyer of its reward.] Such being the case, the cycle of births and deaths — characterized by passing through desireable and undesirable births, and meeting with happiness, sorrow, etc. [From virtuous deeds follow attainment of heaven and happiness. From unvirtuous, sinful deeds follow births as beasts and other lowly beings, and sorrow. From the performance of both virtuous and sinful deeds follows birth as a human being, with a mixture of happiness and sorrow.] from the accumulation of virtue and vice, continues unendingly. Thus, sorrow and delusion are therefore the sources of the cycles of births and deaths. And their cessation comes from nothing other than the knowledge of the Self which is preceded by the renunciation of all duties. Hence, wishing to impart that (knowledge of the Self) for favouring the whole world, Lord Vasudeva, making Arjuna the medium, said, ‘You grieve for those who are not to be grieved for,’ etc. As to that some (opponents) [According to A.G. the opponent is the Vrttikara who, in the opinion of A. Mahadeva Sastri, is none other than Bodhayana referred to in Sankaracarya’s commentary on B.S. 1.1.11-19.-Tr.] say: Certainly, Liberation cannot be attained merely from continuance in the knowledge of the Self which is preceded by renunciation of all duties and is independent of any other factor. What then? The well-ascertained conclusion of the whole of the Gita is that Liberation is attained through Knowledge associated with rites and duties like Agnihotra etc. prescribed in the Vedas and the Smrtis. And as an indication of this point of view they quote (the verses): ‘On the other hand, if you will not fight this righteous (battle)’ (33); ‘Your right is for action (rites and duties) alone’ (47); ‘Therefore you undertake action (rites and duties) itself’ (4.15), etc. Even this objection should not be raised that Vedic rites and duties lead to sin since they involve injury etc.’. Objection: How? Opponent: The duties of the Ksatriyas, charaterized by war, do not lead to sin when undertaken as one’s duty, even though they are extremely cruel since they involve violence against elders, brothers, sons and others. And from the Lord’s declaration that when they are not performed, ‘then, forsaking your own duty and fame, you will incur sin’ (33), it stands out as (His) clearly stated foregone conclusion that one’s own duties prescribed in such texts as, ‘(One shall perform Agnihotra) as long as one lives’ etc., and actions which involve crutely to animals etc. are not sinful. Vedantin: That is wrong because of the assertion of the distinction between firm adherence (nistha) to Knowledge and to action, which are based on two (different) convictions (buddhi). The nature of the Self, the supreme Reality, determined by the Lord in the text beginning with ‘Those who are not to be grieved for’ (11) and running to the end of the verse, ‘Even considering your own duty’ (31), is called Sankhya. Sankhya-buddhi [Sankhya is that correct (samyak) knowledge of the Vedas which reveals (khyayate) the reality of the Self, the supreme Goal. The Reality under discussion, which is related to this sankhya by way of having been revealed by it, is Sankhya.] (Conviction about the Reality) is the conviction with regard to That (supreme Reality) arising from the ascertainment of the meaning of the context [Ascertainment…of the context, i.e., of the meaning of the verses starting from, ‘Never is this One born, and never does It die,’ etc. (20).] — that the Self is not an agent because of the absence in It of the six kinds of changes, viz birth etc. [Birth, continuance, growth, transformation, decay and death.] Sankhyas are those men of Knowledge to whom that (conviction) becomes natural. Prior to the rise of this Conviction (Sankhya-buddhi), the ascertained [Ast. and A.G. omit this word ‘ascertainment, nirupana’-Tr.] of the performance of the disciplines leading to Liberation — which is based on a discrimination between virtue and vice, [And adoration of God]. and which presupposes the Self’s difference from the body etc. and Its agentship and enjoyership — is called Yoga. The conviction with regard to that (Yoga) is Yoga-buddhi. The performers of rites and duties, for whom this (conviction) is appropriate, are called yogis. Accordingly, the two distinct Convictions have been pointed out by the Lord in the verse, ‘This wisdom (buddhi) has been imparted to you from the standpoint of Self-realization (Sankhya). But listen to this (wisdom) from the standpoint of (Karma-) yoga’ (39). And of these two, the Lord will separately speak, with reference to the Sankhyas, of the firm adherence to the Yoga of Knowledge. [Here Yoga and Knowledge are identical. Yoga is that through which one gets connected, identified. with Brahman.] which is based on Sankya-buddhi, in, ‘Two kinds of adherences were spoken of by Me in the form of the Vedas, in the days of yore.’ [This portion is ascending to G1.Pr. and A.A.; Ast. omits this and quotes exactly the first line of 3.3. By saying, ‘in the form of the Vedas’, the Lord indicates that the Vedas, which are really the knowledge inherent in God and issue out of Him, are identical with Himself.-Tr.] similarly, in, ‘through the Yoga of Action for the yogis’ (3.3), He will separately speak of the firm adherence to the Yoga [Here also Karma and Yoga are identical, and lead to Liberation by bringing about purity of heart which is followed by steadfastness in Knowledge.] of Karma which is based on Yoga-buddhi (Conviction about Yoga). Thus, the two kinds of steadfastness — that based on the conviction about the nature of the Self, and that based on the conviction about rites and duties — have been distinctly spoken of by the Lord Himself, who saw that the coexistence of Knowledge and rites and duties is not possible in the same person, they being based on the convictions of non-agentship and agentship, unity and diversity (respectively). As is this teaching about the distinction (of the two adherences), just so has it been revealed in the Satapatha Brahmana: ‘Desiring this world (the Self) alone monks and Brahmanas renounce their homes’ (cf. Br. 4.4.22). After thus enjoining renunciation of all rites and duties, it is said in continuation, ‘What shall we acheive through childeren, we who have attained this Self, this world (result).’ [The earlier quotation implies an injuction (vidhi) for renunciation, and the second is an arthavada, or an emphasis on that injunction. Arthavada: A sentence which usually recommends a vidhi, or precept, by stating the good arising from its proper observance, and the evils arising from its omission; and also by adducing historical instances in its support.-V.S.A] Again, there itself it is said that, before accepting a wife a man is in his natural state [The state of ignorance owing to non-realization of Reality. Such a person is a Brahmacarin, who goes to a teacher for studying the Vedas]. And (then) after his enquiries into rites and duties, [The Brahmacarin first studies the Vedas and then enquires into their meaning. Leaving his teacher’s house after completing his course, he becomes a house holder.] ‘he’ for the attainment of the three worlds [This world, the world of manes and heaven.-Tr.] ‘desired’ (see Br. 1.4.17) as their means a son and the two kinds of wealth consists of rites and duties that lead to the world of manes, and the divine wealth of acquisition of vidya (meditation) which leads to heaven. In this way it is shown that rites and duties enjoined by the Vedas etc. are meant only for one who is unenlightened and is passessed of desire. And in the text, ‘After renouncing they take to mendicancy’ (see Br. 4.4.22), the injunction to renounce is only for one who desires the world that is the Self, and who is devoid of hankering (for anything else). Now, if the intention of the Lord were the combination of Knowledge with Vedic rites and duties, then this utterance (of the Lord) (3.3) about the distinction would have been illogical. Nor would Arjuna’s question, ‘If it be Your opinion that wisdom (Knowledge) is superior to action (rites and duties)…,’ etc. (3.1) be proper. If the Lord had not spoken earlier of the impossibility of the pursuit of Knowledge and rites and duties by the same person (at the same time), then how could Arjuna falsely impute to the Lord — by saying, ‘If it be your opinion that wisdom is superior to action….’ — (of having spoken) what was not heard by him, viz the higher status of Knolwedge over rites and duties? Morevoer, if it be that the combination of Knowledge with rites and duties was spoken of for all, then it stands enjoined, ipso facto, on Arjuna as well. Therefore, if instruction had been given for practising both, then how could the question about ‘either of the two’ arise as in, ‘Tell me for certain one of these (action and renunciation) by which I may attain the highest Good’ (3.2)? Indeed, when a physician tells a patient who has come for a cure of his biliousness that he should take things which are sweet and soothing, there can arise no such request as, ‘Tell me which one of these two is to be taken as a means to cure biliousness’! Again, if it be imagined that Arjuna put the question because of his noncomprehension of the distinct meaning of what the Lord had said, even then the Lord ought to have answered in accordance with the question: ‘The combination of Knowledge with rites and duties was spoken of by Me. Why are you confused thus?’ On the other hand, it was not proper to have answered, ‘Two kinds of steadfastness were spoken of by Me it the days of yore,’ in a way that was inconsistent and at variance with the question. Nor even do all the statements about distinction etc. become logical if it were intended that Knowledge was to be combined with rites and duties enjoined by the Smrtis only. Besides, the accusation in the sentence, ‘Why then do you urge me to horrible action’ (3.1) becomes illogical on the part of Arjuna who knew that fighting was a Ksatriya’s natural duty enjoined by the Smrtis. Therefore, it is not possible for anyone to show that in the scripture called the Gita there is any combination, even in the least, of Knowledge of the Self with rites and duties enjoined by the Srutis or the Smrtis. But in the case of a man who had engaged himself in rites and duties because of ignorance and defects like the attachment, and then got his mind purified through sacrifices, charities or austerities (see Br. 4.4.22), there arises the knowledge about the supreme Reality — that all this is but One, and Brahman is not an agent (of any action). With regard to him, although there is a cessation of rites and duties as also of the need for them, yet, what may, appear as his diligent continuance, just as before, in those rites and duties for setting an example before people — that is no action in which case it could have stood combined with Knowledge. Just as the actions of Lord Vasudeva, in the form of performance of the duty of a Ksatriya, do not get combined with Knowledge for the sake of achieving the human goal (Liberation), similar is the case with the man of Knowledge because of the absence of hankering for results and agentship. Indeed, a man who has realized the Truth does not thingk ‘I am doing (this)’ nor does he hanker after its result. Again, as for instance, person hankering after such desirable things as heaven etc. may light up a fire for performing such rites as Agnihotra etc. which are the mans to attain desirable things; [The Ast. reading is: Agnihotradi-karma-laksana-dharma-anusthanaya, for the performance of duties in the form of acts like Agnihotra etc.-Tr.] then, while he is still engaged in the performance of Agnihotra etc. as the means for the desirable things, the desire may get destroyed when the rite is half-done. He may nevertheless continue the performance of those very Agnihotra etc.; but those performance of those very Agnihotra etc.; but those Agnihotra etc. cannot be held to be for this personal gain. Accordingly does the Lord also show in various places that, ‘even while perfroming actions,’ he does not act, ‘he does not become tainted’ (5.7). As for the texts, ‘…as was performed earlier by the ancient ones’ (4.15), ‘For Janaka and others strove to attain Liberation through action itself’ (3.20), they are to be understood analytically. Objection: How so? Vedantin: As to that, if Janaka and others of old remained engaged in activity even though they were knowers of Reality, they did so for preventing people from going astray, while remaining established in realization verily through the knowledge that ‘the organs rest (act) on the objects of the organs’ (3.28). The idea is this that, though the occasion for renunciation of activity did arise, they remained established in realization along with actions; they did not give up their rites and duties. On the other hand, if they were not knowers of Reality, then the explanation should be this; Through the discipline of dedicating rites and duties to God, Janaka and others remained established in perfection (samsiddhi) either in the form of purification of mind or rise of Knowledge. This very idea [The idea that rites and duties become the cause of Knowledge through the purification of the mind.] will be expressed by the Lord in, ‘(the yogis) undertake action for the purification of oneself (i.e. of the heart, or the mind)’ (5.11). After having said, ‘A human being achieves success by adoring Him through his own duties’ [By performing one’s own duty as enjoined by scriptures and dedicating their results to God, one’s mind becomes purified. Then, through Gods grace one becomes fit for steadfastness in Knowledge. From that steadfatness follows Liberation. Therefore rites and duites do not directly lead to Liberation. (See Common. under 5.12) (18.46), He will again speak of the steadfastness in Knowledge of a person who has attained success, in the text, ‘(Understand…from Me…that process by which) one who has achieved success attains Brahman’ (18.50). So, the definite conclusion in the Gita is that Liberation is attained only from the knowledge of Reality, and not from its combination with action. And by pointing out in the relevant contexts the (aforesaid) distinction, we shall show how this conclusion stands. That being so, Lord Vasudeva found that for Arjuna, whose mind was thus confused about what ought to be done [The ast. and A.A., have an additional word — mithyajnanavatah, meaning ‘who had false ignorance’.-Tr.] and who was sunk in a great ocean of sorrow, there could be no rescue other than through the knowledge of the Self. And desiring to rescue Arjuna from that, He said, ‘(You grieve for) those who are not to be grieved for,’ etc. by way of introducing the knowledge of the Self. [In this Gita there are three distinct parts, each part consisting of six chapters. These three parts deal with the three words of the great Upanisadic saying, ‘Tattvamasi, thou art That’, with a view to finding out their real meanings. The first six chapters are concerned with the word tvam (thou); the following six chapters determine the meaning of the word tat (that); and the last six reveal the essential identity of tvam and tat. The disciplines necessary for realization this identity are stated in the relevant places.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.7-10 Karpanya-etc. upto vacah. By the portion ‘in between the two armies’ etc., [the Sage] indicates this : Beings possessed by doubt, Arjuna had not abstained from the war totally; for, he says thus : ‘Please teach me, who am taking refuge in you’. Therefore while he still remains just in between both knowledge and ignorance, he is taught by the glorious Bhagavat.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
tam uvaca hrsikesah
prahasann iva bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
visidantam, idam vacah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
tam — unto him; uvāca — said; hṛṣīkeśaḥ — the master of the senses, Kṛṣṇa; prahasan — smiling; iva — like that; bhārata — O Dhṛtarāṣṭra, descendant of Bharata; senayoḥ — of the armies; ubhayoḥ — of both parties; madhye — between; viṣīdantam — unto the lamenting one; idam — the following; vacaḥ — words.