prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
shishyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.7
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
By nature’s own way the complete system of material activities is a source of perplexity for everyone. In every step there is perplexity, and therefore it behooves one to approach a bona fide spiritual master who can give one proper guidance for executing the purpose of life. All Vedic literatures advise us to approach a bona fide spiritual master to get free from the perplexities of life, which happen without our desire. They are like a forest fire that somehow blazes without being set by anyone. Similarly, the world situation is such’ that perplexities of life automatically appear, without our wanting such confusion. No one wants fire, and yet it takes place, and we become perplexed. The Vedic wisdom therefore advises that in order to solve the perplexities of life and to understand the science of the solution, one must approach a spiritual master who is in the disciplic succession. A person with a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything. One should not, therefore, remain in material perplexities but should approach a spiritual master. This is the purport of this verse.
Who is the man in material perplexities? It is he who does not understand the problems of life. In the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (3.8.10) the perplexed man is described as follows: yo va etad aksharam gargy aviditvasmaû lokat praiti sa kripanah. “He is a miserly man who does not solve the problems of life as a human and who thus quits this world like the cats and dogs, without understanding the science of self-realization.” This human form of life is a most valuable asset for the living entity who can utilize it for solving the problems of life; therefore, one who does not utilize this opportunity properly is a miser. On the other hand, there is the brahmana, or he who is intelligent enough to utilize this body to solve all the problems of life. Ya etad aksharam gargi viditvasmaû lokat praiti sa brahmanah.
The kripanas, or miserly persons, waste their time in being overly affectionate for family, society, country, etc., in the material conception of life. One is often attached to family life, namely to wife, children and other members, on the basis of “skin disease.” The kripana thinks that he is able to protect his family members from death; or the kripana thinks that his family or society can save him from the verge of death. Such family attachment can be found even in the lower animals, who take care of children also. Being intelligent, Arjuna could understand that his affection for family members and his wish to protect them from death were the causes of his perplexities. Although he could understand that his duty to fight was awaiting him, still, on account of miserly weakness, he could not discharge the duties. He is therefore asking Lord Krishna, the supreme spiritual master, to make a definite solution. He offers himself to Krishna as a disciple. He wants to stop friendly talks. Talks between the master and the disciple are serious, and now Arjuna wants to talk very seriously before the recognized spiritual master. Krishna is therefore the original spiritual master of the science of Bhagavad-gita, and Arjuna is the first disciple for understanding the Gita. How Arjuna understands the Bhagavad-gita is stated in the Gita itself. And yet foolish mundane scholars explain that one need not submit to Krishna as a person, but to “the unborn within Krishna.” There is no difference between Krishna’s within and without. And one who has no sense of this understanding is the greatest fool in trying to understand Bhagavad-gita.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Indeed, while speaking the meaning of scripture to bring out a conclusion, though you are a ksatriya, you have decided to become a beggar! What is the use of my speaking?”
“Giving up my natural courage as ksatriya is my weakness (karpanyam). My intelligence has become bewildered in trying to understand the implementation of dharma, as the path of dharma is very subtle. Therefore it is better that you decide and tell me.”
“But if you defeat my words by posing yourself as learned, what should I say?”
“I am your student, and will no longer uselessly oppose you.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.6 – 2.8 If you say, ‘After beginning the war, if we withdraw from the battle, the sons of Dhrtarastra will slay us all forcibly’, be it so. I think that even to be killed by them, who do not know the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, is better for us than gaining unrighteous victory by killing them. After saying so, Arjuna surrendered himself at the feet of the Lord, overcome with dejection, saying. ‘Teach me, your disciple, who has taken refuge in you, what is good for me.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Therefore Arjuna is saying that with his natural qualities of valour and courage subdued by a feeling of helplessness in not having the desire even to live and in sinfulness for even considering to deign to participate in the destruction of a dynasty. When ones mind is perplexed regarding duty and responsibility one should definitely take direction from higher authority. In the case of Arjuna, who was in doubt as to whether or not it was righteous or unrighteous for a ksatriya to give up fighting and take to begging; therefore without hesitation he fully surrendered unto the Supreme Lord and beseeched Him to instruct what was in his best spiritual interests to engage in.
Another interpretation is that the word arthakaman may be also taken as qualifying the elders and superiors. These elders being consumed by greed of wealth are not likely to refrain from war. Therefore they will have to be slain. Bhishma for an example spoke to King Yudhisthira saying: Man is a slave to wealth but wealth is the slave of no man, this is the truth. O Emperor I am bound to the Kauravas by the acceptance of wealth.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
If as in the previous verse Arjuna has determined that life would not be worth living even if winning the battle then it might be questioned what destined designation does he assign for himself? To this query Arjuna has now determined in his mind that unconditional surrender to the Supreme Lord Krishna is the greatest panacea than any other means prescribed in Vedic scriptures. The Vedic scriptures reveal that He who originated the entire creation, from whose breath emanated the eternal Vedas for Brahma to speak, that Supreme Personality, omniscient and effulgent is He who should be sought for shelter. Also in the books of law in the Vedic culture it is written that He who originated Brahma and protects the eternal Vedas is He the Supreme Lord Krishna, all knowing and effulgent who should be sought for shelter. Those who seek shelter of the Supreme Lord Krishna are never deluded. Lord Krishna is known as Janardana or He who always removes the ignorance of His devotees. Arjuna has lost the power of discrimination in knowing what is beneficial for himself and what is not. So realizing this he tells Lord Krishna that he is surrendering to Him whose power is not known by Brahma or Siva and whose attributes and potencies are transcendental to the material existence. Who is an ocean of qualities such as compassion and mercy and this Lord Krishna has descended Himself and incarnated in the Vrsni dynasty in the family of Vasudeva for the benefit of His devotees and all those who follow righteousness in accordance to the Vedic scriptures who are eligible to receive the mercy and compassion of the Supreme Lord.
According to Vedic scriptures one who dies in this world without becoming self-realized is a miser. One is called a miser who is desitute of knowledge of the nature and qualities of their immortal soul. In worldly parlance one is known as a miser who is extremely stingy with their money. Miserliness here is the affliction of weakness regarding ones spiritual identity and integrity. Discriminatory power weakened by vices forms the delusion which bewilders the intelligence. Arjuna whose ignorance was removed due to the compassion of the Lord for His devotees, realized this and unconditionally surrendered to Lord Krishna with the words tvam prapannam meaning surrendered unto you and asks the Lord for spiritual guidance as confirmed by the words sadhi mam instruct me. Arjuna qualifies his own fitness to receive these instructions from Lord Krishna by the words sisyah te aham meaning I am your disciple. This was stated by Arjuna so that Lord Krishna would understand that he was serious and not doubt his intentions that he was a fit recipient for the Lords mercy and give him instructions out of His causeless compassion.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.7 Sri Sankaracharya did not comment on this sloka. The commentary starts from 2.10.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.7 See Comment under 2.10
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te ‘ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
kārpaṇya — of miserliness; doṣa — by the weakness; upahata — being afflicted; sva-bhāvaḥ — characteristics; pṛcchāmi — I am asking; tvām — unto You; dharma — religion; sammūḍha — bewildered; cetāḥ — in heart; yat — what; śreyaḥ — all-good; syāt — may be; niścitam — confidently; brūhi — tell; tat — that; me — unto me; śiṣyaḥ — disciple; te — Your; aham — I am; śādhi — just instruct; mām — me; tvām — unto You; prapannam — surrendered.