एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदु: |
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्ट: परन्तप || 2||
evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣhayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣhṭaḥ parantapa
evam—thus; paramparā—in a continuous tradition; prāptam—received; imam—this (science); rāja-ṛiṣhayaḥ—the saintly kings; viduḥ—understood; saḥ—that; kālena—with the long passage of time; iha—in this world; mahatā—great; yogaḥ—the science of Yog; naṣhṭaḥ—lost; parantapa—Arjun, the scorcher of foes
O Arjuna! The royal sages know this (yoga) which was handed down in regular succession from generation to generation. But by long lapse of time, this Yoga was lost to the world.
Royal sages -Kings who knew Brahmavidya are called royal sages. They are Jnanis as well as rulers, who possessed royalty and wisdom together. In the earliest times, several Kings and emperors were endowed with Self-Knowledge. The term `Rishi’ is a title. Anyone can acquire it. Even an ordinary man becomes a `Rishi’ when he comes to possess Atma vidya. So the man who conquers the senses and mind, who is able to practise nishkama karma, and who has attained a glimpse of the Supreme Self is a Rishi.
We have to understand that in former ages, Kings were the real possessors of Brahma vidya. This proves that worldly life is not in any way a barrier to Atma vidya. Let us imagine the life of a King in former times. He was the supreme power of the state, and he was responsible for the administration of the whole kingdom. How many cares and anxieties he must have had in discharging his royal duties. And yet, it was the king who acquired and possessed the highest wisdom. The practical application of Vedanta to actual life was the contribution of these great monarchs to the world. Let us hear the words of Swami Vivekananda on this point. “In various Upanishads, we find that this Vedanta philosophy is not the outcome of meditation in the forests only but that the very best parts of it were thought out by brains which were busiest in the everyday affairs of life. We cannot conceive any man busier than an absolute monarch, a man ruling over millions of people and yet, some of these rulers were deep thinkers.” Arjuna comes of a noble family of royal sages. So it would not be difficult for him to tread the path of the ancient kings who were adept both in worldly matters and spiritual knowledge.
It does not mean that others are not qualified for this Yoga. In fact, the Lord’s message is for people who are engaged in the different avocations of life, like teachers, politicians, administrators, agriculturists or shop-keepers, etc. Very often we hear people brushing aside anything of spiritual knowledge as an obstacle to their worldly activities, which they say are necessary for the maintenance of this life. This verse condemns such an apathetic attitude to the spiritual life because it is pointed out that monarchs have practised this Yoga with great advantage to their spiritual and practical life.
Was lost: This does not mean that Karma Yoga as a spiritual path was completely destroyed. Some incidents might have caused neglect of this Yoga for the time being. But it cannot be destroyed as it is imperishable – Avyayam. Just as the Lord is eternal, even so, the Dharma established by Him is eternal.