Reflections on the Bhagwat-Geeta – Chapter II – Section 5

Verse 53, the last verse of Section 4 of Chapter II of the Bhagwat Geeta, ends with the basic linkage between Buddhi and Yog:

  • Verse 53………….When your Buddhi (बुद्धि) becomes absolutely Stable (निश्चला), totally focused (समाधौ अचला), Then You Will Attain Yog (तदा योगम अवाप्स्यसि).

Last week, we discussed the central tenet of Yogthe control of Buddhi over the Mind, its desires and emotions. But how do we attain such Buddhi? It is hard to attain something that we don’t see or understand. The easiest way to learn something is to watch it being practised.

Clearly Arjun had the same questions. Read what he asked Shree Krishna in Verse 54:

           स्थितप्रद्न्यस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव
           Sthita-Pradnyasya Kaa Bhashaa Samadhistasya Keshav
           What is the definition of a Stable Buddhi Achiever, of One with Total Focus, O Keshav (another name for Krishna)

           स्तिथधीः किम प्रभाषेत किम आसीत व्रजेत किम
           Sthita-Dheehee Kim Pra-Bhaasheta Kim Aaasit Vrajeta Kim
           How does one with Stable Buddhi Speak? How does he behave? How does he Articulate?

The answer to this question is the entire Section 5 from Verse 55 to Verse 72. First, Shree Krishna provides a summary definition in Verses 55 and 56:

  • Verse 55One who throws out all the desires (काम or Kaam) that enter the Mind and remains content within Oneself, He is then called an Achiever of Stable Buddhi (स्थितप्रद्न्य).
  • Verse 56One whose Mind remains Un-Saddened in Grief, One who remains without attachment in Happiness, One who has shed Love, Fear and Anger (वीत राग भय क्रोध),  He is called a Totally Focused Sage (स्तिथधीः  मुनि).

This concept is further illustrated in Verses 57 to 61.

Then in Verses 62 & 63, Shree Krishna warns about the dangers of succumbing to temptations

  • Verse 62 – When Man gets engrossed (ध्यायतो) in Temptation (विषय or Vishaya) , Attachment (संग or Sang) is created in Him; From Attachment springs Desire (काम or Kaam) and Desire creates Intense Anger (क्रोध or Krodh).
  • Verse 63Anger creates Confusion (संमोह or Sam-Moha), From Confusion, a loss of memory (स्मृति विभ्रम or Smruti-Vibhram); From corruption of Memory (स्मृति भ्रम्श्यात or Smruti-Bhramshyaat), the destruction of Buddhi (बुद्धि नाष) and finally utter disaster from the destruction of Buddhi.

These two verses are really helpful in everyday life. Last week, we began discussed the application of Yog to the everyday activity of  Investing. We now apply the above two Verses to Investing.

  • Investors historically get engrossed in the stock market near market highs because they are tempted by the market rallying virtually everyday. With this engrossment, investors get emotionally attached to their stocks.
  • They start dreaming about the wealth their favorite stocks would create for them. The Stock Analysts foster these dreams. Remember the analyst call in 2000 that Cisco was going to be the first company with a Trillion Dollar market cap or the analyst call in 2007 that Google would go to $1,000.
  • When these prices target prove stupid and when dreams begin to melt away as stock market falls, investors get intensely angry. In this anger, they forget their memories of past bear markets, history that teaches that it is wise to sell early and in size.
  • This loss of memory destroys their Buddhi that would have told them to protect their assets from further declines. It is this lack of Buddhi that leads to investment disaster, of holding on to losses all the way down. Look what happened in six months from early September 2008 to early March 2009. In these six months, investors lost 50% of all the investment gains made in 76 years, from mid 1932 to fall 2008. This is utter disaster indeed. 

Verses 64 to 68 drive home the instruction to conquer temptation and the emotions that spring from them. They teach that control of emotions, desires is a pre-requisite to achieving Stable Buddhi. 

The most famous verse of Section 5 is Verse 69:

          या निशा सर्व भूतानाम तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी
          Yaa Nishaa Sarva Bhutaanaam Tasyaam Jagarti SamYamee
          In what is Night to all people, the Balanced One Stays Wide Awake

          यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः
          Yasyaam Jagrati Bhutaani Saa Nishaa Pashyato Mune he
          When all people remain wide awake, that is Night to the Muni

This verse is best understood when applied to Investing:

  • In October 2007, the stock market hit its all time high. The period from 2003 to 2007 had been a glorious period for investment gains. Portfolios were up, houses had gone up in value, Commodities delivered profits and dreams of even greater profits in the future. Investors were happy and asleep in their complacence.
  • During this time, a few investors who kept their mental balance (संयम) were wide awake to the bubble that had formed in financial and housing markets. They got out of stocks and went into the safety of Treasuries. But, the vast majority of investors remained utterly complacent and remained overweight in stocks & risk assets like commodities. 
  • Then after the bubble burst in late 2008, majority of investors remained wide awake in fear. They could not believe the destruction they were seeing in financial markets.
  • During this period of utter panic, investors who had sold in 2007 and went into Treasuries could sleep in peace, secure in the knowledge that their portfolios were protected.

The term in Behavioral Science and in Behavioral Finance is “Madness of Crowds“. Human history is full of cases when the crowd or the majority gets mesmerized by a dream and hooked on a concept. It is at these times, the Balanced Ones remain wide awake with deep concern. It is when the majority gets panic stricken, the Balanced Ones can remain secure and at peace.

There is no way to prevent desires from entering the mind. So how does one handle the influx of desires? Shree Krishna addresses this with a simple example in Verse 70:

  • The way the Ocean remains steady within itself (अचल-प्रतिष्तम) despite water entering the Ocean from all sides (from rivers), the One who treats the desires entering his mind in that manner (like that of the Ocean), He will achieve Shaanti (शान्ति) and the ones who succumb to desires will not.

This is further amplified in the final instruction of this Section in Verse 71:

  • One who sheds desires and behaves in life without Attachment (निस्पृह), without Affection (निर-मम) and without Ego (निर-अहंकार), He will reach the state of Shaanti (शान्ति).

Shree Krishna calls this state ब्राम्ही स्थिति  or “Brahmee State”. Once One obtains this state, One does not fall prey to temptation and even on one’s death bed, this state delivers Brahma-Nirvaan (ब्रह्म-निर्वाणं ) or the ultimate state of Moksha or deliverance. In this manner, we feel Shree Krishna brings Arjun back to his concern of death of his kin in the War.

Thus Endeth Chapter II named Saankhya-Yog (सांख्य योग) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

Editor’s Note:
Every chapter of the Bhagwat Geeta ends this manner. It describes the Geeta as an Upa-Nisad, as a Yog-Shaastra (or Yog-Science) of Brahma-Vidyaa (Knowledge of Creator/Creation) and a dialog between Shree Krishna & Arjun. A clear statement of the central role of the Bhagwat Geeta in the Eternal-Dharma!

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