buddhiḿ mohayasīva me
tad ekaḿ vada niścitya
yena śreyo ‘ham āpnuyām
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.2
My intelligence is bewildered by Your equivocal instructions. Therefore, please tell me decisively which will be most beneficial for me.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In the previous chapter, as a prelude to the Bhagavad-gita, many different paths were explained, such as sankhya-yoga, buddhi-yoga, control of the senses by intelligence, work without fruitive desire, and the position of the neophyte. This was all presented unsystematically. A more organized outline of the path would be necessary for action and understanding. Arjuna, therefore, wanted to clear up these apparently confusing matters so that any common man could accept them without misinterpretation. Although Krishna had no intention of confusing Arjuna by any jugglery of words, Arjuna could not follow the process of Krishna consciousness—either by inertia or by active service. In other words, by his questions he is clearing the path of Krishna consciousness for all students who seriously want to understand the mystery of the Bhagavad-gita.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“O my friend Arjuna, it is true that bhakti, beyond the gunas is supreme. But since that is obtained only by the mercy of my great pure devotees in an unexpected manner, it is not attained by the efforts of the individual. Therefore, I have given the blessing to you: be transcendental to the gunas (nistraigunya bhava): be transcendental to the gunas by transcendental bhakti. When this blessing matures, you will attain bhakti by such unexpected mercy of the pure devotee. As it is fitting to the present circumstances, directing you to engage in activity with the words karmany evadhikaras te is also valid.”
“Then why do you not clearly tell me to engage in activity? You throw me into an ocean of doubt. You bewilder my intelligence by those words which are mixture of many meanings (vyamisrena). Though you have mentioned about action (karmany evadhikaras te), you also speak of jnana using the word yoga in such statements as the following:
yogasthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga ucyate
Being situated in this niskama karma yoga, perform your duties, giving up attachment, being equal to success and failure, O conqueror of wealth! Such equal mindedness is called yoga. BG 2.48
buddhi-yukto jahatiha ubhe sukrta-duskrte tasmad yogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam
He who is engaged in niskama karma yoga gives up both pious and impious reactions. Therefore engage in this yoga. Among all types of action, this performance without attachment is a skill. BG 2.50
And you speak only of knowledge in such statements as yada te moha-kalilam buddhir vyatitarisyati: when your intelligence has crossed the denseness of illusion… (Gita 2.52)
The word iva indicates that “Your words are not actually filled with many meanings, and it is not your desire to bewilder me, as you are merciful. Nor is it that I do not know the meaning, but you should speak this clearly.”
The deep sense is this: compared to karma in the mode of passion, karma in the mode of goodness is superior. Superior to that is jnana, which is also sattvika. And bhakti, beyond the modes, is superior to that. If you say that bhakti is not possible for me, then instruct me just on jnana alone. Then I should be free from the bondage of samsara and misery.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.2 Consequently, it appears to me as if ‘you confuse me with statements that seem to contradict each other.’ For, firm devotion to knowledge which forms the means for the vision of the self and which is of the nature of stopping the operations of the senses on the one hand, and on the other exhortation to action which is of a nature opposite to it, i.e., knowledge, as a means to the same vision of that Atman — these statements are contradictory and confusing. Therefore tell me clearly the path following which I can take a determined course and win the Supreme Being.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
We see Lord Krishna stating in chapter two, verse 31 that “There is no greater good fortune for a ksatriya warrior then to engage in a war for righteousness. So the superiority of actions has also being praised by Him. Due to the praising of both jnana yoga and karma yoga in a seemingly equal manner some conflict arises in Arjuna’s mind and he became confused. But still he is clear enough to understand that the Lord being compassionate is never really perplexing to His devotees; but it may appear so because of a lack of clarity. So Arjuna can perceive he is being seemingly bewildered and this is the underlying meaning of the verse. So Arjuna is beseeching Lord Krishna to clarify definitively which is the superior path of the two that gives blessedness and leads to final beatitude being moksa or liberation.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Hari Om! Previously it has been spoken that self-realisation of the soul is the gained by the means of spiritual knowledge. Lord Krishna after substantiating the cessation of activities with words of wisdom He now redirects Arjuna’s attention to the performance of actions. In chapter two, verse 49 the resplendent Lord Krishna had endorsed that cultivation of spiritual knowledge is by far superior to fruitive activities. So Arjuna is questioning why he is being urged to perform savage activities in warfare which is bereft of righteousness, if the attainment of wisdom is superior to performing actions.
Now the summation begins.
Hari Om! Wisdom and equanimity have been discussed. Now karma yoga the yoga of actions is being specifically explained in this chapter. Far inferior is action in the search of enquiry. Here the word yoga attached to karma-yoga is being utilised as a means of acquiring wisdom in the performance of actions.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Although Arjuna was bewildered he could still understand that Lord Krishna valued the cultivation of spiritual knowledge as being superior to activities without attachment and he could also understand that if Lord Krishna was ordering him to fight this must be also for his betterement as well, The Lord did not specify which path Arjuna was qualified for as yet and thus Arjuna was in a dilemna and needed a clear, definitive instruction that would end his confusion. Arjuna is humbly requesting this with the underlying request that the most merciful and compassionate Supreme Lord should not bewilder the mind of one who is His surrenderd devotee.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.2 ‘Though the Lord speaks lucidly, still, to me who am of a dull understanding, the Lord’s utterance appears to be conflicting.’ ‘Mohayasi, You bewilder; me, any; buddhim, understanding; iva, as it were; vyamisrena iva, by that seemingly conflicting; vakyena, statement! You have surely undertaken to dispel the confusion of my understanding; but why do You bewildered (it)? Hence I say, “You bewildered my understanding, as it were.”‘ However, if You [In some readings, ‘tvam tu, however, you’, is substituted by ‘tatra, as to that’.-Tr.] think that it is impossible for a single person to pursue both Knowledge and action, which can be undertaken (only) by different persons then, that being the case, vada, tell me; niscitya, for certain; tadekam, one of these, either Knowledge or action: “This indeed is fit for Arjuna, according to his understanding, strength and situation”; yena, by which, by one of either Knowledge or action; aham, I; apnuyam, may attain; sreyah, the highest Good.’ Even if Knowledge had been spoken of at all by the Lord as being subsidiary to steadfastness in action, how then could there be the desire in Arjuna to know of only one of them, as expressed in ‘Tell me one of these two?’ Certainly the Lord did not say, ‘I shall speak of only one among Knowledge and action, but surely not of both’, owing to which, Arjuna, considering it impossible for himself to acquire both, should have prayed for one only! The answer was in accordance witht the question:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.1-2 Jyayasi etc. and Vyamisrena etc. Action has been taught and knowledge too. Now it is proper [to attach] importance not to both, but only to knowledge. Now if with the strenght of knowledge the action is to be destroyed from its very root, according to the instruction ‘The man of wisdom casts off [both the good and the bad action]’, then what is the autility of action ? This is idea of [Arjuna’s] question. But the Bhagavat gives the answer :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
buddhim mohayasiva me
tad ekam vada niscitya
yena sreyo ‘ham apnuyam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
vyāmiśreṇa — by equivocal; iva — certainly; vākyena — words; buddhim — intelligence; mohayasi — You are bewildering; iva — certainly; me — my; tat — therefore; ekam — only one; vada — please tell; niścitya — ascertaining; yena — by which; śreyaḥ — real benefit; aham — I; āpnuyām — may have.