Chapter 2 -- Verse 56


Verse: duhkhesv anudvigna-manah sukhesu vigata-sprhah vita-raga-bhaya-krodhah sthita-dhir munir ucyate

Translation: "One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady

My question: what is the meaning of threefold miseries ?


2 Answers 2


I checked three translations of Gita 2.56. None of the translators uses the term threefold miseries in translating the verse. However, Sri Sankaracharya talks about threefold miseries in his commentary.

Whose mind is not agitated in adversity, who is free from desire and who is devoid of attachments, fear and anger - such a person is called a sage of steady wisdom.

Gita 2.56 translated by Swami Tapasyananda

He whose mind is untroubled in the midst of sorrows and is free from eager desire amid pleasures, he from whom passion, fear and rage have passed away, he is called a sage of settled intelligence.

Gita 2.56 by Radhakrishnan

The silent sage is said to have stable wisdom when sufferings no longer perturb his mind, when he ceases to cling to pleasures, and he is rid of attachment, fear and wrath.

Gita 2.56 of Sri Sankaracharaya translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier

What is Tapatraya (three miseries)?

Adhibhautika, adhidaivika and adhyatmika are known as Tapatraya.

The three words respectively mean: pertaining to (a) the bhuta or living beings; (b) the daiva or fate, unseen forces and gods; (c) the body (and the mind).

Sorrow and suffering (duhkha, tapa) are inevitable in life. In fact, they are a part of life. A knowledge of their origin, causes and even categorisation helps one to minimise their effect if not eradicate them. The Hindu religious works usually call them 'tapatraya', 'the three miseries'. They are: adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika.

The adhyatmika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by bodily suffering and mental anguish. Hereditary diseases like leprosy, disabilities like blindness or lameness and diseases caused by the violation of the rules of health and sanitation are classed under this. The mental agony caused by worries and anxieties, attachment and aversion, also comes under this group.

The adhidaivika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by daiva. The word daiva includes the power of time, nature and the unseen hand of fate. Diseases caused by the changing seasons, misery caused by the elemental forces like floods and fire, suffering caused by black magic or gods who are displeased, natural tribulations due to hunger, thirst and old-age belong to this group.

The adhibhautika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by other bhutas or living beings, like wild animals, snakes or enemies.

Some of these, like hereditary diseases or physical disabilities cannot be got rid of. Hence they must be endured. Some like the diseases caused by change of seasons or the machinations of enemies can be countered by taking appropriate precautions. However, raising the mind to the level of the spirit, thus transcending the limitations imposed by the body-mind complex, is the best solution to offset the effects of tapatraya.

A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda


The threefold miseries mentioned in this particular translation refers to - adhyatmika (misery due to one's own body and mind), adhibhautika (misery due to other living entities) and adhidaivika (misery due to nature).

You can refer to this site for more understanding, it contains commentaries of BG from all the major Acharyas of different sampradayas - https://www.bhagavad-gita.us/bhagavad-gita-2-56/

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