Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 29

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेनमाश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः ।
आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः शृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥२-२९॥

ashcharyavat pashyati kashchid enam
ashcharyavad vadanti tathaiva cha anyah.
Ashcharyavachai anamanyah shrinoti
Shrutva apyenam veda na chaiva kashchit  ॥ 2-29 ॥



In Bhagavad Gita chapter 2 verse 29 Lord Krishna enumerates to Arjuna features of a soul atman, the spirit within. As per Lord Krishna some people viewed world of souls’ atmans with great awe, unable to comprehend its intrinsic nature. Others slightly comprehending world of souls atmans, described it as amazing, astonishing… yet, human beings still failed to understand the minute structure of souls atmans. In a world dominated by egos and material riches, human beings found it difficult to understand miniature world of soul’s atmans. They refuse to believe existence of souls’ atmans as controlling factor of cosmos.


There were others who found the miniature world of soul’s atmans absolutely surprising. Based on their intellect (buddhi), and inherited intelligence… whatever little they could fathom of the world of souls atmans, they found it totally unbelievable! One failed to perceive that such a small soul atman could be absolute controller of all things cosmic! They in fact failed to realize sayings and statements of various seers, sages and saints of different era regarding essence of souls’ atmans. As per Krishna, Arjuna was a Kshatriya, a competent warrior… yet, his lament over worldly affairs was unacceptable to Krishna.


All human beings were primarily ignorant of their true nature! We failed to realize, perceive that we were primarily a soul atman, the spirit within… and not the manifest physical human form! To lament over things ephemeral was unrealistic. Only by realizing our true inner self as a soul atman, the spirit within… we could understand the nature of world created by God! Through Bhagavad Gita chapter 2 verse 29 Lord Krishna wants Arjuna to comprehend the incomprehensible that he was a spiritual being, a spirit manifesting human form. Krishna wants to impress upon Arjuna that human life was momentary, fleeting… never long-lasting. It was only a soul atman that was eternal, existing from times immemorial!


Krishna further says that many even after hearing a lot about souls’ atmans still expressed bewilderment! This proves that understanding true nature of souls’ atmans was beyond human intellect, the capability of a commoner. Only an accomplished seer, traveler of spiritual path could finally realize what souls atmans were all about! As Arjuna fitted this category, it was for him to abandon Moha (extreme emotional attachment) towards his loved ones and fight the enemy in battlefield of Mahabharata. All efforts of Lord Krishna were directed towards preparing Arjuna to fight this badly needed war of dharma (righteousness). In times of war, how could Arjuna behave cowardly in front of his army, countrymen?


The Explanation:

In bhagavad gita chapter 2 verse 29 Lord Krishna highlights to Arjuna that characteristics of a soul atman, the spirit within were totally distinct from body manifested by it. Everything relating to soul atman… the world of spirits was subtle, beyond recognition of human senses and mind! The world of souls’ atmans could never be viewed, realized by limited power of human senses and mind. In the circumstances, Arjuna wailing for anticipated death of Bhishma Pitamah and Dronacharya (manifest bodies) at hands of Pandavas was unreasonable, uncalled for!


As per Lord Krishna, any human being capable of realizing essence of souls’ atmans was nothing short of a miracle… something beyond perception of normal human beings! To realize our true inner self, to reach stage of enlightenment (kaivalya jnana)… human beings undertaking spiritual journey was mandated by God Almighty! It was only one in many billions who by undertaking spiritual journey finally reached god in their lifetime. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana were amongst them. Stated otherwise, it simply means… realizing our true inner self… our soul atman, the spirit within was not an easy task! One had to cut across shackles of karma to reach God in their lifetime.


Karma had to be negated to zero to reach god. Karma can only be negated by establishing absolute control over five senses and mind. To realize that we were a soul atman, the spirit within and not a manifest physical human form… we had to undergo perils of spiritual path, the unknown! As everything in world of souls atmans was hidden from human beings (the physical manifest self)… our true nature, our true inner self could only be realized by detaching self from the seemingly inseparable Moha (feelings of extreme emotional attachment) that bonded us with loved ones. Souls’ atmans truly were so minute that even in coming times science would fail to recognize its presence.


Even though inherent nature of souls’ atmans was elaborately laid out in Bhagavad Gita and various Upanishads… most human beings found it difficult to palate, decipher or understand its real form! At one time or another people world over attended various spiritual congregations, Satsanga, discourses to learn inner truths of life but failed to reach firm conclusions. Realizing true nature of souls’ atmans was really difficult, prime reason why God Almighty ordained a long journey of 1.1 million manifestations in human form to reach stage of enlightenment (kaivalya jnana). Realizing our true nature, gaining enlightenment meant the same! A soul atman gaining absolute purity means reaching stage of enlightenment forever!


Krishna repeatedly emphasizes that nature of souls atmans was unworldly, distinguished… not easy to understand by limited powers of human intellect!


Referring to following quote in Katha Upanishad 1.2.7 (also Kathopanishad Adhyay 1 Valli 2 Verse 7)…


श्रवणायापि बहुरभिर्यो न लभ्यः श्रृण्वन्तोपि बहवो यं न विद्युः ।
आश्चर्यो वक्ता कुशलोस्य लब्धाश्चर्यो ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ॥७॥

shravanayapi bahubhiryo na labhyah
shrunvanto’pi bahavo yam na vidyuh ।
ashcharyo vakta kushalo’sya labdha
ashcharyo jnata kushal anushishtah ॥7॥


Just by listening to discourses, attending Satsanga one could never decipher the reality of souls atmans. Listening is different but realizing our soul atman… an altogether different thing! No matter what level of discussion… by hearing alone one could never reach ones true inner self! This simply means we could realize our true nature only through path of contemplation… path of self enquiry (path of Neti… not this, not this) as preached and detailed by Maharishi Ramana… one who reached god in his lifetime!


If such a listener tries to propagate half baked theories of souls’ atmans, it was only out of ignorance! Furthermore, indulging in various shastras, scriptures of different religions of world… if one thinks we gained intelligence, one was again ignorant in matters spiritual! Anything relating to souls atmans could never be learnt that way. Simple indulgence in scriptures never led anywhere. In simple words, it means… literal knowledge carried little meaning in spiritual journey.


One had to dive deep into the bottomless pit of jnana wisdom contained in sacred scriptures of different religions of world to fathom underlying teachings. Simply attending spiritual discourses, congregations also carried no meaning in spiritual world. Nothing in field of pure spirituality could ever be gained literally. It was only through path of contemplation on teachings contained in sacred scriptures one reached the hidden inner meaning. There was never a shortcut path to know realities of abstract life.


Summarizing all… simply by listening, hearing… attending discourses one never gained anything relating to spiritual world. Even an occasional literal read never lead anywhere. Inner truths of life required repeated indulgence in hidden inner meanings contained in sacred texts. Unless we mastered delicate art of contemplation… we truly reached nowhere on spiritual path. In the busy materialistic world, none wants to indulge deeply… prime reason why people failed to realize basic abstract truths of life.


In my 50 years of spiritual travail, I have yet to come across a person who could truly define to me… meaning of god, meaning of souls atmans, definition of karma… meaning of dharma and related spiritual terminology! Outwardly expression of interest carried no meaning in spiritual world. Why pretend and mar spiritual progress.


Quote 1.2.7 of Katha Upanishad further says… our soul atman; the spirit within itself chooses its subject. Only one as competent as Arjuna was fit to decipher sayings of Lord Krishna. One from masses, commoners was not competent to understand, realize world of souls’ atmans. Stated otherwise, this also means that only a serious seeker of spirituality finally succeeds in reaching god. Success of spiritual journey directly depends on karma performed. It was purely our personal effort that paved way for success in spiritual world.


By following path of contemplation, by indulging in self enquiry, following path of Neti (not this, not this)… remaining truthful in life always and ever… human beings finally succeed in hearing the sweet small inner voice of their soul atman, that seems to come from within our heart. It is this path of contemplation and truthfulness that helps one in establishing absolute control over five senses and mind. The moment our karma negates to zero, one reached, in fact realized ones true nature, our true inner self… our soul atman, the spirit within!


Conversely stated… it is we (our soul atman) choosing self (manifest physical human being) to gain absolute purity in its cosmic life cycle. In spiritual journey nothing can be left to chance. God comes to rescue of those who believed in him in totality. Most human beings in present times did not have absolute faith in God Almighty. Can such human beings ever be expected to reach god in their lifetime? Not believing in god is the biggest dilemma of a true seeker. Unless we believed in god, unless we believed in our true inner self… our soul atman, the spirit within… how could we realize our true nature?


No matter how many times we read Srimad Bhagavad Gita or Upanishads… we truly reached nowhere! If we as a soul atman, the spirit within desire absolute purity… our indulgence in path of contemplation and truthfulness was all the time necessitated. Something… we could never do without if we truly wanted to reach god in present life. In quote Katha Upanishad 1.2.7 it further says… that God Almighty reveals itself in all its glory to one who finally succeeds in negating karma to zero forever. We had to become a pure soul atman before god reveals his true nature to a true seeker of spirituality.


Summarizing it all, we can say with absolute confidence that seers, sages who had seen god in their lifetime were extremely difficult to find in present times. Even if we find one, it would be difficult for us to recognize one! Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, one who reached god in his lifetime was easily able to recognize Swami Vivekananda, his favorite disciple who only wanted to see god in his lifetime. But for a Swami Vivekananda… to recognize Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a realized soul was out of bound. Humanity would be lucky to find an enlightened one in present times who could disseminate to masses, commoners… the ailing mankind essential teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.


One very important aspect of spiritual life is… one who finally reaches God in one’s lifetime also never comes to know ones gains on spiritual path! Only at the last moment things become clear, the stage of reaching enlightenment (kaivalya jnana), when one looks with total awe at what one had achieved in life! It was grace of God Almighty that all jnana wisdom contained in various scriptures of different religions of world was now at our tips. One finally becomes a bodhi, a Jina… a Mahavira at the end of spiritual journey!


Referring to Mantra 5 Vaak Sukta (Vāk sūktam) from Rg Veda Samhita (also called Devi Suktam)…


yaM kAmayE taMtamugraM kRuNOmi
taM brahmANaM tamRuShiM taM sumEdhAm |5|


In Vaak Sukta, Vaak is Brahma Vadini, a seer of the mantra. Similar as Lord Krishna renders teachings in Bhagavad Gita in form of Brahman himself… in vaak sukta Vāk renders jnana wisdom identifying self with Brahman! The richaye which speaks of self are termed adhyatmik richaye.


Vāk says… only whomever I chose; I make them wise in the spiritual journey of life! Meaning thereby… not everyone indulging in sacred scriptures could be termed wise. To become a seer, a sage was not that easy! Vāk further says, only one who deserves… do I make one a Tattva Jnani, Brahma jnani! It is the individual who qualifies for spiritual elevation by indulging in contemplation, path of absolute truthfulness! Without grace of God Almighty, without absolute faith in God Almighty… nothing could be achieved in field of pure spirituality! Vāk says… it is not for us to decide our level of spirituality! The discretion always rested with god, whom to choose or not! In simple words, one could never be a claimant to post of a seer or sage! Everything spiritual truly comes from within. By indulging in sacred scriptures… we flowered from within! On path of pure spirituality, by indulging in teachings contained in sacred scriptures we slowly unveiled the hidden inner meanings. Textual readings never lead one towards becoming a sage or seer.


In field of pure spirituality… one could never question god at any stage of life! It was only absolute faith in God Almighty that worked wonders. Compared to science that demands proofs at every stage of life… spirituality was ruled by absolute faith in God Almighty all the time. Mere belief in god leads one nowhere. We must step-by-step develop absolute faith in God Almighty. Unless we believed in entity of God Almighty in totality… we never achieved anything in spiritual life! All my life I have observed people remembering god in times of distress but how many people remembered god in moments of happiness! In a country like India where I belong… people believed more in going to temples, churches and mosques! Such rituals never lead human beings anywhere. The domain of God Almighty exists in our heart. Our belief in our true self, our belief in existence of a soul atman within our heart was essence of life. Unless we believed we were a soul atman on its cosmic journey of 8.4 million manifestations… we truly reached nowhere on spiritual path!


Absolute faith in God was never by chance. It gets built slowly day by day. The moment our faith in God Almighty was absolute… we start receiving grace of God Almighty all the time!


Whatever has been enumerated in Katha Upanishad 1.2.7 or Mantra 5 of Vaak Sukta from Rg Veda Samhita… the same has been repeated again in Bhagavad Gita chapter 2 verse 29. The primary reason for repetition in sacred scriptures always was… to provoke one to contemplate on sacred texts again and again to reach hidden abstract truths of life! We must never indulge in literal reading. Path of self enquiry practiced by Maharishi Ramana was one of the best paths to reach god in present life.


We may agree or not… we were primarily a spiritual being… a spirit, a soul atman on its cosmic life cycle of 8.4 million manifestations that entailed an earthly journey of 96.4 million years. The journey is long and time essence of life. In a limited time span of 70 to 80 years of earthly life, how could one achieve all that was expected to be achieved in a time span of 1.1 million manifestations in human form? In bhagavad gita chapter 2 verse 29 Lord Krishna confirms that realizing our true inner self indeed was a difficult task. Only by seeing, saying or listening human beings never realized their true inner self. The stage of absolute purity by a soul atman can only be achieved by indulging in teachings contained in sacred scriptures of different religions of world through path of contemplation.


Even if one finds a preceptor in present life… it is not necessary that one could grasp the teachings of sacred scriptures disseminated by one! In times of Krishna, in times of Mahabharata, amongst all Pandavas, Arjuna was the one and only one who could decipher teachings disseminated to him by Lord Krishna in the battle of Mahabharata. Achieving jnana wisdom of souls’ atmans means reaching cosmic end of life… 8.4 millionth manifestation, last in cosmic life cycle! If our ultimate goal of cosmic life was gaining absolute purity forever, why not indulge in path of spirituality detailed in Bhagavad Gita to reach God in present life! As a spiritual being… we could never leave things to chance! Why? For we do not know… what form our soul atman manifests in next manifestation!


As crux of life always lay in hands of our soul atman, the spirit within… doing its bidding all the time was call of day! All sacred teachings were directed towards human beings gaining enlightenment in their lifetime. This becomes possible by realizing our true inner self, becoming a pure soul atman forever! Liberating self from cycle of birth and death forever is what earthly life all about. As human form is highest manifest stage in cosmic life cycle, it becomes all the more important to indulge in spirituality to reach god in present life. Achievements of materialistic world never carried to next life. What ultimately transfers was residual balance of karma of present life. Does it mean we must all engage in good karma, positive karma all the time to reach god in present life. Yes, teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita say-so! Essence of life lay not in wondering about world of souls’ atmans but reaching god in present life.


Commentary by: Vijay Kumar “Atma Jnani”… The Man who Realized God in 1993 – Sep 18, 2014

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