Corporate musings

Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 9 – Reality

Chapter 2 Verse 19

Lord Krishna is considered an avatar of Vishnu and the most complete of his avatars. There can be a debate about whether Lord Krishna is a God or if there is a God at all, but its abundantly clear that Krishna is a being of supreme intelligence and he is far more evolved. In verse 19 of Chapter 2, he speaks of the imperishable soul and how anyone who is knowledgeable will know that the soul neither kills nor is killed… am not thinking of the soul and afterlife etc, but its making me think of how we assume “reality” and take so many decisions armed with that “knowledge” which need not be true !!!

य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम् |
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते || 19||

ya enaṁ vetti hantāraṁ yaśh chainaṁ manyate hatam
ubhau tau na vijānīto nāyaṁ hanti na hanyate

yaḥone who; enamthis; vettiknows; hantāramthe slayer; yaḥone who; chaand; enamthis; manyatethinks; hatamslain; ubhauboth; tauthey; nanot; vijānītaḥin knowledge; naneither; ayamthis; hantislays; nanor; hanyateis killed
The translation is – Neither of them is knowledgeable — the one who thinks the soul can slay and the one who thinks the soul can be slain. For truly, the soul neither kills nor can it be killed.

The link to the page is –

My interpretation is as follows –

Science says we use just 2% of our brains and reality penetrates our mind through many filters of previous experiences, beliefs and prejudices. So very little of the real is real, more often its our perception that is reality for us. It applies to organizations too because organizations are made up of people !!

Krishna is trying to explain to Arjuna that in “reality” he can neither kill nor be killed, because his soul and all the souls of his brothers, cousins, uncles etc are immortal. Its his perception that he will kill them that’s causing him agony.

Maybe this recent example will make it easier to understand. My late Mom-in-law underwent an x-ray scan as part of her health check-up. The X-ray showed a fracture in her back. She had never spoken of pain in her back till that time, but the minute she found out that there was a fracture, she felt a lot of pain. We got her a brace and she felt better. Now, the reality is the fracture was there all along, not a complete break, but a hairline fracture. She didn’t know about it, so felt no pain or didn’t attribute the pain she occasionally felt to that fracture. The minute the doctor told her about the fracture, it was painful. So that’s how perception works.

The subject of perception as reality has been of interest to me for the longest time. Some of my previous blogs explore this topic – Perception is reality;  The Vivekananda series… 4. Projection:

What should we do to see reality as it is ? Question our assumptions and gather evidence to see if our perception is indeed reality or its just an assumption basis some past experience. This is especially important in resolving team conflicts and interpersonal relationship disasters. We label people (fundamental attribution error) and then try to resolve the conflict using that label….. see who the person is in reality and then try to resolve the conflict.

Even this blog is about how I perceive the verse, not what Lord Krishna meant in real. :):):)


1 reply »

  1. Bindu,
    A basic concept in group therapy is to check out your assumptions. That may be akin to what you are saying. The next question is, does reality exist outside our perceptions? I contend there is no objective reality, because who is the judge of objectivity?

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