Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Shankara | Discourse 18 verse 67-78

Qualification for instruction in the Gītā Doctrine.

Having concluded the whole doctrine of the Gītā-śāstra in this discourse, and having also briefly and conclusively stated the doctrine especially here at the end to impress it the more firmly,

the Lord proceeds now to state the rule as to the handing down of the instruction.

67. This (which has been taught) to thee is , never to be taught to one who is devoid of austeri­ties, nor to one who is not devoted, nor to one who does not do service, nor to one who speaks ill of Me.

Shankara's commentary:

This śāstra has been taught to you by Me for your good, for the destruction of saṁsāra.

Not devoted: without devo­tion to the Guru and to the Deva.

Never: under no cir­cumstances whatever. It should not be declared to him who, devoted and full of austerities as he may be, renders no service.

One who speaks ill of Me: he who looks upon Me, Vāsudeva, as an ordinary man, and who in his ignorance declares Me guilty of self-adulation and does not like to be told that I am the Īśvara. He, too, is not fit; and the śāstra should not be taught to him.

By implication we should understand that the śāstra is to be taught to him who does not speak ill of the Lord, who is a man of austeri­ties, who is devoted, and who renders service.

Now, as it has been elsewhere said that it should be taught “either to a man of austerities, or to an intelligent man,”

it should be declared to a man of austerities who is devoted and renders service, or to an intelligent man possessed of the two attri­butes;

it should not be taught to a man of austerities or to an intelligent man if he is not devoted and does not render service.

It should not be taught to him who is jealous of the Lord, though he may be possessed of all attributes. It should be taught to one who is devoted and renders service to the Guru.

This is the rule as to how the śāstra should be handed down.

The merit of teaching the Doctrine.

Now the Lord proceeds to state what fruits will accrue to him who hands down the instruction:

68. He who with supreme devotion to Me will teach this Supreme Secret to My devotees, shall doubtless come to Me.

Shankara's commentary:

This Supreme Secret: the Secret Doctrine taught above in the form of a dialogue between Keśava and Arjuna. It is Supreme because it conduces to the Highest Bliss.

Teach: establish by teaching both the text itself and the doctrine, as I have established it by teaching it to thee. By repetition of ‘devotion’ here, it is meant that by devotion alone one becomes worthy of being taught the śāstra.

—How should he teach it?

—In the faith that he is thus doing service to the Eternal Lord, to the Parama-Guru, the Supreme Teacher. As the fruit of this act, such a teacher will go to the Lord, he will be liberated.

69. Nor is there any among men who does dearer service to Me than he; nor shall there be another on earth dearer to Me than he.

Shankara's commentary:

Nor, etc.: There is none in the present generation. He: the man who hands down the śāstra. Shall be: in future time. On earth: in this world.

70. And he who will study this sacred dialogue of ours, by him I shall have been worshipped by the sacrifice of wisdom, I deem.

Shankara's commentary:

Dialogue: this work which is in the form of a dialogue.

Of the four kinds of sacrifice such as vidhi or ritual, japa or a loud prayer, upāmsu or a prayer uttered in a low voice, mānasa or a prayer offered with the mind.

The jñāna-yajña or wisdom-sacrifice comes under the head of mānasa and is therefore the highest. Thus the Gītā-śāstra is extolled as a jñāna-yajña.

Or, we may regard this passage as revealing what the real effect (of the act enjoined here) is, i.e., that the act will produce an effect equal to that of wisdom-sacrifice, of the contemplation of a Devatā or the like.

The merit of hearing the Doctrine.

The benefit accruing to the hearer is stated as follows:

71. And the man also who hears, full of faith and free from malice, even he, liberated, shall attain to the happy worlds of the righteous.

Shankara's commentary:

Even he: much more so he who understands the doctrine. Liberated: from sin. The righteous: those who have per­formed Agnihotra or such other sacrifices.

The Lord assured by Arjuna of his grasp of the Teaching.

The Lord now asks with a desire to know whether the pupil has understood or not the teaching of the śāstra,

the object of the question being that He might make the pupil understand the teaching by some other means, if the latter be found to have not understood it.

And this is to show that it is the duty of the teacher to try again to make the pupil understand the teaching and enable him to attain his object.

72. Has it been heard by thee, O Pārtha, with an attentive mind? Has the delusion of ignorance been destroyed, O Dhananjaya?

Shankara's commentary:

It: what I have told thee. Heard: have you heard it without distraction and understood? Delusion of ignorance: that absence of discrimination which is caused by ignorance and which is natural.

Has your delusion been destroyed? Its destruction is the object of all this exertion on your part to hear the śāstra and of the exertion on My part as the teacher.

Arjuna said:
73. Destroyed is delusion, and I have gained recognition through Thy Grace, O Achyuta. I am firm, with doubts gone. I will do Thy word.

Shankara's commentary:

Delusion: born of ajñāna or ignorance, the cause of the whole evil of saṁsāra, hard to cross like the ocean. I: who have sought Thy Grace.

Recognition: of the true nature of the Self. When this recognition is obtained, then will all the ties of the heart be loosened.

—This questioning and answering about the destruction of delusion shows conclusively what the purpose of a knowledge of the teaching of the whole Śāstra is, namely, the destruction of delusion and the attainment of a recognition of the Self.

So the śruti (Chhā. Up. 7-1-3, 26-2) begins with the words “Not know­ing the Self, I grieve” and then speaks of the loosening of all ties by means of Self-knowledge.

There are also scriptural passages such as “The tie of the heart is broken” (Muṇḍ. Up. 2-2-8) and “To him who sees unity, what delusion is | there, what grief?” (Īśa. Up. 7).

I am firm: in Thy com­mand. Do thy word: Arjuna means to say “Through Thy Grace I have achieved the end of life; I have naught to do,’

Sanjaya extols the Lord and His teaching.

The teaching of the śāstra is over. Now, in order to connect it with the main narrative, Sanjaya goes on:

Sanjaya said:

74. Thus have I heard this wonderful dialogue between Vāsudeva and the high-souled Pārtha, which makes the hair stand on end.

75. Through the grace of Vyāsa have I heard this Supreme and most secret Yoga direct from Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, Himself declaring it.

Shankara's commentary:

Through the grace of Vyāsa: by obtaining from him the divya-cakṣus or divine vision. Yoga: this dialogue; the work is called Yoga because it leads to Yoga. Or, the word may mean Yoga itself. Himself: it is not through mere tradition that I have heard it.

76. O king, remembering every moment this wonderful and holy dialogue between Keśava and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again.

Shankara's commentary:

King: Dhritarāshtra. Holy: as the mere hearing of it destroys sin.

77. And remembering every moment the most wonderful Form of Hari, great is my wonder, O king; and I rejoice again and again.

Shankara's commentary:

Form: Viśvarūpa, the Universal Form.

Not to dilate much,

78. Wherever is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Arjuna, the archer, there fortune, victory, prosperity and polity are established, I deem.

Shankara's commentary:

Wherever: on that side on which. The Lord of Yoga: He is the Lord of all Yogas, since the seed of all Yoga comes forth from Him. Archer: wielding the bow called the Gāṇḍīva. There: on the side of the Pāṇḍavas. Prosperity: increase of fortune.