2.41 vyavasAyAthmikA budhdhir

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Chapter 2

<< Chapter 2 verse 40

SlOkam – Original

vyavasAyAthmikA budhdhir EkEha kuru nandhana |
bahu SAkhA hi ananthAS cha budhdhayO’vyavasAyinAm ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

kuru nandhana – Oh arjuna (scion of kuru dynasty)!
iha – in this context of karma yOga
vyavasAythmikA – with firm faith in the true nature of self
budhdhi: – intelligence
EkA – single minded (since its singly focussed on mOksham (liberation))
avyavasAyinAm – those who don’t have firm faith in the true nature of self
budhdhaya: – intelligence (that is focussed on worldly fruit-bearing actions)
ananthA: – are countless (since the results are countless too)
bahu SAkhA: – have multiple subdivisions

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

Oh arjuna (scion of kuru dynasty)! For those who have firm faith in the true nature of self, their intelligence is single minded (since its singly focussed on mOksham (liberation)); for those who don’t have firm faith in the true nature of self, their intelligence (that is focussed on worldly fruit-bearing actions) is countless and have multiple subdivisions.

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

‘O Kuru-nandana! 1, there is but one certain conviction of mind in this (to the cultured). But to the unsettled (or uncultured) the minds are many-branched and endless.’

In this, i.e., the various methods of work prescribed in Śāstras, there is but one path of certainty.

Vyavasāya=niśchaya=certainty or decision. The conviction or mind of such decisive nature is that which the moksha-aspirer has, in the works he performs. This decision indeed follows from a certain conviction as regards nature of ātmā.

‘Unsettled or uncultured’ is that mind which entertains ideas of fruit-breeding action. People of this latter kind need only have a simple general belief that ātmā, a something distinct from body, exists; and no more precise knowledge concerning ātmā is required in their case. Without such accurate knowledge of ātmā, they can wish for, try for, and obtain Svarga and similar fruit, so that such acquisitions do not conflict with the necessity for a definitely true knowledge of ātmā.

On the other hand, the understanding of certainty is unique from its singleness of purpose, or singleness of aim. All works enjoined for such a person has for its sole object, moksha (freedom). This is the gist of all Śāstra-teaching, pointing in that definite direction. And such being the case, there can arise but one settled kind of conviction. For the fulfillment of the one single aim, moksha, are all works enjoined for the moksha-aspirer. Hence as the main object of Śāstras is one, the certain understanding as regards the object of all works (karmas) can be but one, as in the case for example of all the six different rites (karmas) viz., Āgneya etc.,2 with all their modus operandi though different, which may yet constitute into a conjoint means; for when all of them are directed towards the securing of one single fruit, the understanding thereof as regards these several acts is but one.

Whereas in the case of those of unsettled minds, who engage in various acts (karmas) each intended to secure some one or the other fruit such as Svarga, sons, cattle, food etc., the understandings are endless inasmuch as the fruits are endless. Even there it is many-branched, for though such acts (or rites) as for example, Darśa-pūrṇamāsa3 etc., are directed to be performed for the attainment of a definite end, yet they confer intermediate minor benefits such as a lengthened lease of life as said in:

‘Āyur-āśāste,’4=”Blesses with long life” etc.

Hence it is stated that the understanding of the uncultured people is ‘endless and ramifying.’

The purport of the whole is this: that all daily (nitya) and incidental (naimittika) rites prescribed in Śāstras shall be performed with the sole aim, moksha, being kept in view, though each rite, if so desired, is per se capable of giving its own specific, terminable and intermedial reward; but all such reward, the moksha-aspirer shall reject.

As for fructiferous rites (kāmya), even those shall be performed, in the manner prescribed for the several castes (varṇa)5 and orders of life (asrama)6, and according to one’s own ability;7 but resigning their specific fruits in favor of moksha.

The engagers in fruit-breeding rites (i.e., hungering for fruits thereof) are now condemned:

>> Chapter 2 verse 42

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  1. Arjuna, a Scion of the Kuru dynasty
  2. The six Yāgas or religious Sacrifices, known as āgneya, Agnishomiya, upāmśu-yājam, āgneyam, aindram-dadhi, aindram-payah, constituting what is known as Darśa-pūrṇamāsa. See note 2, below.
  3. See Yajus Samhita. II-22, and other places. Darśa is the new moon day, and Pūrṇamāsa is the full moon day. The 6 Yāgas, Āgneya, etc., (vide note 1. supra) are three of them to be performed in Darśa, and the other in Pūrṇamāsa.
  4. Vide Kṛishṇa Yajus, Brāhmaṇa, 3, 5, 10, 23.
  5. The four varṇas are Brāhmaṇa, Kshatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra.
  6. The four aśramas are Brahmacharya (bachelor and student), Gārhastya (married life), Vānaprastha (retired forest life) and Sanyāsa (monastic or ascetic life).
  7. Cp. Iśa. Up. 2: ‘Kurvanneve-ha karmāṇi etc.’

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