Bhagawad-Geetaa 2.40

नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते ।

स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ॥


Here there is no destruction of effort; harmful effects do not occur Even a little of this dharma delivers [one] from great fear


Your efforts in this practice cannot be reversed. It produces no harmful effects. Even a little of this practice saves you from great fear.


This verse promises the following:

  • there is such a thing as a small incremental effort in pursuit of this yoga,
  • there are immediate benefits,
  • the benefits are permanent, and
  • there are no unexpected harmful side effects.

This should be contrasted with any practice in which

  • a large and difficult effort is required for benefits to be realized,
  • mistakes are costly, and
  • earned benefits can later be taken away.

Indeed, the practice of warfare itself has these defects, so the promises are distinctly appealing to Arjuna in his context. In his commentary on this verse, Swami Chinmayananda refers to Krishna tongue-in-cheek as a “publicity agent for his own philosophy” and referring to the problems in the prospect’s current context is certainly good salesmanship.

I am reminded of this verse whenever I come across “good” habits. The best habits are those that create monotonically increasing and permanent benefits. Certain practices lack dynamic equilibrium, meaning that perfect execution is beneficial but small variations in their execution may lead to failure and/or harm. The best habits possess dynamic equilibrium: small variations in their practice produce little or no variation in their benefits, and these variations lead us toward superior practice.

Tags: Philosophy, Reading

Created at: 21 April 2008 12:04 AM