Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 38

Attraction and aversion are opposite sides of the same coin. Attraction is positive desire—you are attracted to things you like and are compelled to pursue them. Aversion is negative desire—you are repelled by things you don’t like and are compelled to avoid them. By achieving ‘dispassion’ you are not compelled. You are free.

Holding pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat to be equal, take up the battle and thus incur no misfortune.

Holding opposites to be equal, or the same, is often referred to as ‘dispassion’. By taking up this challenge one can achieve dispassion. When dispassion is achieved regarding any set of opposites, no misfortune is encountered where that set of opposites is concerned.


The Sanskrit means ‘difficulty’ — being scared, in pain, trouble, hardship, sorrow, and…well, you get the picture.

Pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, etc., are pairs of opposites. Opposites being equal is usually understood as not having excess joy or sorrow over either of a pair, i.e., we should not be unhappy about loss or pleased with gain.

But this verse is not telling us what we should not do. Sukhaduhkhe same kritva simply says, “Ease (sukha) and difficulty (duhkha) have the same effect (same kritva)” — one of a pair is not stronger than the other so the effect is equal. This paints a different picture than simply having no effect at all, one way or the other. It is a picture of two opposites becoming equal in value and strength, and in this way, attraction or aversion to either is also equal, so there is no contest.

However one might understand achieving dispassion, it will happen on its own if you have the means. The simplest means is to surrender yourself to God/Truth in a conducive environment that allows this to take place naturally and fully, such as Surrender Meditation; between meditations, Mental Yoga can be practiced.

Find more on how neutralizing opposites works in verse 15, and in “Neutralizing Opposites” in verse 14.

Self-reference:  The next time you find yourself reacting to something, try to identify it, give it a name, and look for its opposite.


In an attempt to be helpful, a friend says to you, “That outfit you’re wearing looks terrible; you are grossly out of fashion.”

Your internal reaction is that you have been insulted by your friend. You try to identify this feeling and realize that you are angry (even though you have managed not to show it). You quickly contemplate an opposite to anger and decide on happiness — there may be other opposites, but you choose ‘happy’ and try to move into this state, if only temporarily. When you get home, you use this incident to practice moving into the state of ‘angry’ and then into ‘happy’, back and forth, until they are the same and you can move as quickly and easily into one as the other. By using this Mental Yoga, you have increased your degree of dispassion, and where this pair of opposites is concerned, you will incur no ‘misfortune’.

Durga Ma

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3 thoughts on “Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 38

  1. Pingback: III:1-3 Arjuna’s Angst | Mystical Tidbits

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