From anger arises delusion. From delusion, the wandering of memory. From the wandering of memory, the destruction of intelligence. From the destruction of intelligence, one is lost. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 63
The word for anger also means ‘wrath’ and ‘passion’; delusion, ‘loss of consciousness, error, ignorance, misunderstanding, misinterpretation’; wandering, ‘disturbance, confusion, error, mistake, illusion’; memory, ‘remembrance of the whole body of sacred oral tradition remembered by human teachers’; destruction of intelligence, the disappearance or loss of (1) the ability to ‘discern or discriminate’ on the part of the seeker, and (2) ‘the loss of remembered sacred oral teachings’.
The Cause of Death
This verse winds down with the news that we are all going to die: “one is lost”. The word for ‘lost’ means ‘falls down’ and ‘death’—prana falls down so one dies (prana’s pathway in the body is upward). We should all be stunned to realize that this verse is actually implicating immortality. So many wonders there are, and we know so little! Perhaps the Fountain of Youth, the Holy Grail, is hidden somewhere within us?
Anger causes turbulence of the mind, which in turn causes remembered oral teachings to become lost through error, misunderstanding and misinterpretation, leading to the decline and loss of sacred oral teachings. Having been lost through the destruction of intelligence, these teachings fall into ruin, and death becomes inescapable.
Sacred Oral Teachings
Sacred oral teachings are passed down through lineages of masters. These teachings are not found in religions. The teacher passes them down orally only to students who have reached stages in their sadhana that will make their knowledge understandable and beneficial to them.
In this verse, Krishna describes how these oral teachings are periodically lost to future generations by being passed down to those who are not qualified to receive them. With the loss of intelligent discernment and the subsequent loss of correct understanding of these oral teachings, the world falls apart. It ‘dies’, as does the individual seeker.
At the end of an age, when the path to Truth has been lost, God incarnates to rectify the situation. The period of this Mahabharata war* is a case in point. God has incarnated as Krishna, Arjuna’s guru, in order to save the world.
* The setting of the Bhagavad Gita is the Mahabharata war, an historical event of another age used by the author to interject practical and esoteric spiritual teachings.
Anger can take many forms, from simple annoyance and displeasure to jealousy, hostility and rage. The Sanskrit word for anger also means passion. The energy of passionate anger is the kind of energy that makes us insensible and vulnerable to error. This is the issue here, not anger per se, but the energy of anger.
According to the Sanskrit, kroda, the passion of anger produces wrong thinking, error, and misunderstanding. Thus are the mysteries lost, and seekers as well. Krishna is forewarning Arjuna of the importance of not sharing everything He has taught him with just anyone. In chapter eighteen, Krishna gives specific qualifications for determining who can receive these teachings:
Qualifications for Receiving the Mysteries
“This shall not be spoken of by you to anyone who is without austerity (tapas, the ‘heat or warmth’ of purification), nor to one who is not devoted to Me at all times (devotion and obedience to Krishna, God/Guru), nor to one who does not desire to hear what is to be said (‘the obedient and attentive student reaches the proper stage of sadhana and is desirous of hearing it’), nor to one who speaks ill of Me or demonstrates ill-feelings toward Me.” — Vs. 67
Lord Krishna goes on to say:
“He who shall set forth this Supreme Secret to My devotees, having performed this highest devotion to Me, shall certainly come to Me.” — Vs. 68
Now you know why I practice this Yoga and teach it.
“And no one shall do more pleasing service to Me than this one, and no other on earth shall be dearer to Me.” — Vs. 69
Now you know why I write of these teachings to you.
“And one who studies this sacred dialogue of ours, by that one I am loved with the knowledge sacrifice. Such is my thought.” — Vs. 70
Now you know why I continually study this scripture.
“One who hears it with faith, not scoffing, will be liberated and attain the happy worlds of those whose actions are pure.” — Vs. 71
Now you know why you are drawn to listen.
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