kutas tvā kaśmalam idaḿ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.2
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Krishna and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are identical. Therefore Lord Krishna is referred to as Bhagavan throughout the Gita. Bhagavan is the ultimate in the Absolute Truth. Absolute Truth is realized in three phases of understanding, namely Brahman, or the impersonal all-pervasive spirit; Paramatma, or the localized aspect of the Supreme within the heart of all living entities; and Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11) this conception of the Absolute Truth is explained thus:
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
“The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases of understanding by the knower of the Absolute Truth, and all of them are identical. Such phases of the Absolute Truth are expressed as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.”
These three divine aspects can be explained by the example of the sun, which also has three different aspects, namely the sunshine, the sun’s surface and the sun planet itself. One who studies the sunshine only is the preliminary student. One who understands the sun’s surface is further advanced. And one who can enter into the sun planet is the highest. Ordinary students who are satisfied by simply understanding the sunshine—its universal pervasiveness and the glaring effulgence of its impersonal nature—may be compared to those who can realize only the Brahman feature of the Absolute Truth. The student who has advanced still further can know the sun disc, which is compared to knowledge of the Paramatma feature of the Absolute Truth. And the student who can enter into the heart of the sun planet is compared to those who realize the personal features of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Therefore, the bhaktas, or the transcendentalists who have realized the Bhagavan feature of the Absolute Truth, are the topmost transcendentalists, although all students who are engaged in the study of the Absolute Truth are engaged in the same subject matter. The sunshine, the sun disc and the inner affairs of the sun planet cannot be separated from one another, and yet the students of the three different phases are not in the same category.
The Sanskrit word bhagavan is explained by the great authority Parashara Muni, the father of Vyasadeva. The Supreme Personality who possesses all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation is called Bhagavan. There are many persons who are very rich, very powerful, very beautiful, very famous, very learned, and very much detached, but no one can claim that he possesses all riches, all strength, etc., entirely. Only Krishna can claim this because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No living entity, including Brahma, Lord Shiva, or Narayana, can possess opulences as fully as Krishna. Therefore it is concluded in the Brahma-samhita by Lord Brahma himself that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is equal to or above Him. He is the primeval Lord, or Bhagavan, known as Govinda, and He is the supreme cause of all causes:
ishvarah paramah krishnah
anadir adir govindah
“There are many personalities possessing the qualities of Bhagavan, but Krishna is the supreme because none can excel Him. He is the Supreme Person, and His body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. He is the primeval Lord Govinda and the cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita 5.1)
In the Bhagavatam also there is a list of many incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but Krishna is described as the original Personality of Godhead, from whom many, many incarnations and Personalities of Godhead expand:
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
mrdayanti yuge yuge
“All the lists of the incarnations of Godhead submitted herewith are either plenary expansions or parts of the plenary expansions of the Supreme Godhead, but Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.” (Bhag. 1.3.28)
Therefore, Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, the source of both the Supersoul and the impersonal Brahman.
In the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna’s lamentation for his kinsmen is certainly unbecoming, and therefore. Krishna expressed His surprise with the word kutah, “wherefrom.” Such impurities were never expected from a person belonging to the civilized class of men known as Aryans. The word Aryan is applicable to persons who know the value of life and have a civilization based on spiritual realization. Persons who are led by the material conception of life do not know that the aim of life is realization of the Absolute Truth, Vishnu, or Bhagavan, and they are captivated by the external features of the material world, and therefore they do not know what liberation is. Persons who have no knowledge of liberation from material bondage are called non-Aryans. Although Arjuna was a kshatriya, he was deviating from his prescribed duties by declining to fight. This act of cowardice is described as befitting the non-Aryans. Such deviation from duty does not help one in the progress of spiritual life, nor does it even give one the opportunity to become famous in this world. Lord Krishna did not approve of the so-called compassion of Arjuna for his kinsmen.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Why (kutah) has this bewilderment (kasmalam) at this critical juncture of the war (visame) come upon you (upasthitam), which is not to be experienced by persons firmly established in dharmic principles (anarya justam), which is against both happiness in next life (asvargyam) and this life (akirti karam)?
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.1 – 2.3 Sanjaya said — Lord said — When Arjuna thus sat, the Lord, opposing his action, said: ‘What is the reason for your misplaced grief? Arise for battle, abandoning this grief, which has arisen in a critical situation, which can come only in men of wrong understanding, which is an obstacle for reaching heaven, which does not confer fame on you, which is very mean, and which is caused by faint-heartedness.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The Supreme Lord Krishna said: Whence meaning from where, coming from what source, caused by what reason has such weakness, such bewilderment overpowered him at this critical moment of crisis. This weakness is not sanctioned by honourable men, it is unrighteous and thus guarantees infamy.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
By using the unexcelled superlative of Bhagavan in referring to Lord Krishna supreme position as the unparalleled possessor of the six opulences being: omniscience, power, strength, splendour, wealth and dispassion. Lord Krishna desiring to benefit the devotees enquires from Arjuna where has this delusion arisen from in this hour of crisis which afflicts those who do not comprehend the value of human existence.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.2 Sri Sankaracharya did not comment on this sloka. The commentary starts from 2.10.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.2 Kutah etc. To commence with, the Bhagavat exhorts Arjuna just by following the worldly (common) practice; but, in due course, He will impart knowledge. Hence He says ‘practised by men of low birth’. Uttering words of rebuke such as ‘unmanliness’ etc., the Bhagavat causes [Arjuna] to know that he misconceives demerit as meritorious.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
kutas tva kasmalam idam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; kutaḥ — wherefrom; tvā — unto you; kaśmalam — dirtiness; idam — this lamentation; viṣame — in this hour of crisis; samupasthitam — arrived; anārya — persons who do not know the value of life; juṣṭam — practiced by; asvargyam — which does not lead to higher planets; akīrti — infamy; karam — the cause of; arjuna — O Arjuna.