|| Shree Hari ||
II 2:42-43 II
yaam imaam pushpitaam vaacham, pravadanti avipaschitah
veda-vada-rataah paarth, naanyad asteeti vaadinah
kaamaatmaanah svarga-paraa, janma-karma-phala-pradaam
kriyaa-visesa-bahulaam, bhogaishvarya-gatim prati
“O Partha (Arjuna), those who are obsessed by desires, who look upon heaven as the supreme goal, and they are devoted to the letter of the Vedas, performing many rites for fulfilling desires. They argue that there is nothing else (except to enjoy the pleasures). These unwise people utter flowery (show-off type, pleasant) speeches, recommending many rituals of various kinds for the attainment of pleasure and prosperity, with rebirth as the fruit of their actions.”
From Gita Prabodhani in Hindi pg. 45 – 46 by Swami Ramsukhdasji
Chapter 2, Verse 42 is as follows;
Yaam = which
Imaam = this
PuShpitaam = flowery
Vaacham = speech
Pravadanti = utter
A-vipashchitaH = the unwise
Veda-Vada-RataaH = rejoicing in the words of the Vedas
Paartha = O Arjun!
Na = not
Anyat = other
Asti = is
Iti = thus
VaadinaH = saying
The unwise take delight in mere letters and not the spirit of the Vedas and utter in flowery language that, there is nothing else other than the rituals in the Vedas.
In Sanskrit language, a wise person is called `Vipashyachit’ (YaH VisheSheNa Pashyan Chintayate SaH = one who carefully observes everything and thinks independently), while an unwise is called as `A- Vipashyachit’.
In animal kingdom, there is nothing beyond next meal, next mate and next sleep. However, in human kingdom, a man is endowed with an ability to think independently beyond mere mundane existence and seek unity with the Self.
In this verse, Lord Krishna makes a clear distinction between a true `Karma’ an action abiding in obligatory duty and `Karma-Kaanda’ i.e. mere ritualistic piety.
Maharshee Veda Vyaasa, whom Lord Krishna has referred to as one of His special manifestations in verse 37 in chapter 10 in Shreemad Bhagawad Geeta, created proper classification and compilation of the so far accumulated knowledge in the four Vedas namely, Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and Atharva-Veda. Each of these Vedas is elaborate in Mantras (lyrical chants praising the beauty of nature created by God), Brahmanas (description of various rituals), Aranyakas (various styles of subjective worship) and Upanishads (philosophical teachings for the knowledge of the Self).
The Brahmanas form a major part of the Vedas which deal with `Karma-Kaanda’ i.e. the elaborate rituals and sacrifices for `Ishta-Praapti and Poorti’ i.e. fulfillment of individual desires for worldly acquisitions and enjoyments. No doubt many are motivated to perform such rituals and this has been fully exploited by `Brahmana VarNa’ i.e. a people of priest class even today, which has been resented by people belonging to the other three VarNas in the system of Chaatur-VarNa.
In Mundaka Upanishad I, 2-10 there is a heavy criticism of such people who indulge in mere rituals for the sake of attainment of the Heaven, “These fools, who believe that only the performance of `Ishta-Purtam’ i.e. sacrificial ritual is meritorious and nothing else is meritorious, return to the mortal world after having enjoyed the limited pleasures in the `Swarga’ i.e. the kingdom of the gods, which is deemed to be inferior to the abode of the Paramatman, the Supreme Being.”
Please refer verses 20 and 21 of chapter 9 in Shreemad Bhagawad Geeta, where Lord Krishna talks about rituals for purely selfish motives, “The knowers of three Vedas, who drink `Soma-Rasa’ i.e. juice of a special herbal plant found in the Himalayas and are cleansed of sin, worshipping Me with sacrifices, pray for their passage to the Heaven, while living in this mortal Earth. They manage to reach the holy world of the God Indra and enjoy the limited set of pleasures of the gods. However, when their `Punya-Karma’ i.e. meritorious action is exhausted, having enjoyed the spacious world of the Heaven, they finally attain the changeable i.e. the unending cycle of birth and death. This is in total conformity with the doctrines enjoined in the three Vedas.”
Please note that the fourth Veda i.e. `Atharva-Veda’ has been deliberately ignored by Lord Krishna, as it encourages additional desires based on purely monetary transactions.
The verses 42, 43 and 44 have been created by Maharshee Veda Vyaasa, as a satire on obsessive ritualism that was then practised by both the masses and the classes. These three verses depict and deplore the state of deterioration in the religious practices only for attainment fifty six `Bhogas’ i.e. materialistic and sensual pleasures; as if they were the only means to the end of `Swarga-Praapti’ i.e. attainment of the final pursuit of the Heavenly pleasures.
Indeed rare and fortunate are those, who are able to avoid the ills of the `Karma-Kaanda’ even today.
In essence, what Lord Krishna is trying to communicate to Arjuna is that the concepts of `Paapa and Punya’ i.e. sins and meritorious deeds have nothing to do with mere rituals based on pure selfish motives. Therefore, O Arjuna, please look for the Supreme Reality that lies far beyond this materialistic world.