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Friday, 18 January 2013

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Two

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Two: Contents of the Gita Summarized
Text 16

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्वदर्शिभिः ॥

भावार्थ : असत्‌ वस्तु की तो सत्ता नहीं है और सत्‌ का अभाव नहीं है। इस प्रकार इन दोनों का ही तत्व तत्वज्ञानी पुरुषों द्वारा देखा गया है॥16॥

nasato vidyate bhavo
nabhavo vidyate satah
ubhayor api drsto ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darshibhih


Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

There is no endurance of the changing body. That the body is changing every moment by the actions and reactions of the different cells is admitted by modern medical science; and thus growth and old age are taking place in the body. But the spirit soul exists permanently, remaining the same despite all changes of the body and the mind. That is the difference between matter and spirit. By nature, the body is ever changing, and the soul is eternal. This conclusion is established by all classes of seers of the truth, both impersonalist and personalist. In the Vishnu Purana (2.12.38) it is stated that Vishnu and His abodes all have self-illuminated spiritual existence (jyotimsi vishnur bhuvanani vishnuh). The words existent and nonexistent refer only to spirit and matter. That is the version of all seers of truth.

This is the beginning of the instruction by the Lord to the living entities who are bewildered by the influence of ignorance. Removal of ignorance involves the reestablishment of the eternal relationship between the worshiper and the worshipable and the consequent understanding of the difference between the part-and-parcel living entities and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can understand the nature of the Supreme by thorough study of oneself, the difference between oneself and the Supreme being understood as the relationship between the part and the whole. In the Vedanta-sutras, as well as in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Supreme has been accepted as the origin of all emanations. Such emanations are experienced by superior and inferior natural sequences. The living entities belong to the superior nature, as it will be revealed in the Seventh Chapter. Although there is no difference between the energy and the energetic, the energetic is accepted as the Supreme, and energy or nature is accepted as the subordinate. The living entities, therefore, are always subordinate to the Supreme Lord, as in the case of the master and the servant, or the teacher and the taught. Such clear knowledge is impossible to understand under the spell of ignorance, and to drive away such ignorance the Lord teaches the Bhagavad-gita for the enlightenment of all living entities for all time.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

This verse describes the results for those who have attained the level of discrimination. Actually as sruti says, the soul is not attached to matter: asango hi ayam purusah. (Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad 4.3.15) Thus, the jiva does not have a relationship with the subtle or gross bodies and its products such as lamentation and bewilderment. This relationship is caused by ignorance. This is explained in this verse.

There is no existence (bhavah) of the body (asatah), the shelter of lamentation and bewilderment, because of its opposite nature to the soul, in which these do not exist. And there is no destruction of the jiva with its real form (satah). The conclusion (antah) about both of these—the body and the soul – is seen by the seers of truth. By this, there will be no lamentation or bewilderment arising from seeing body and things related to the body because of the eternal, indestructible soul in Bhisma and others of the opposing party as well as you and your allies. How can Bhisma and others be destroyed, and why do you lament for them?

Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya: Visnuswami

Sridhara Swami's Commentary

It may be submitted that the objects of the sense like excessive heat and cold are extremely difficult to endure. Sometimes it is seen that exposure to elements like heat and cold can even cause the destruction of the body. In answer to this to convey that it is possible to endure anything with the correct discrimination of the truth the Supreme Lord states this verse. The unreal being of the nature of the impermanent is not reality having no existence in the self. The real of the nature of the eternal has no destruction being always existent. Thus the conclusion about both of these the real and the unreal has been determined. By whom? As the verse states by the knoweres of the Ultimate Truth who understand the true nature of things. So the conclusion is that by such discrimination one must learn to tolerate and endure them.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya: Madhvacarya

Madhvacarya's Commentary

The soul is eternal as verified in the Vedas. Why is the soul eternal? Is there anything else eternal as well? Hence it is stated in the verse beginning nasato vidyate. There is no annihilation of a-sat meaning prakriti which is the material substratum or sat referring to the Ultimate Truth because it is declared in the Visnu Purana that prakriti, purusa and kala or time are eternal. Because the word vidyate has been seperately used in relation to sat and a-sat and because it has been said in Srimad Bhagavatam also known as Bhagavat Purana that a-sat is the physical manifestation and sat is of the subtle form the Ultimate Truth of reality, a-sat is known as manifestation of sat, the unmanifest. This understanding for both a-sat and sat and is confirmed by the word anta meaning summation.

Now begins the summation.

The actual sorrow expressed by Arjuna is not being felt because the consequences of war lead to misery in the next life. The rule in the material existence is that every action has its corresponding and equal reaction, thus it is seen that by unrighteous actions there is no happiness and by righteous actions there can be no unhappiness. The words referring to sat bhavah are all connected to happiness and the words connected to a- sat abhava are those which are connected to sorrow.

Thus it is stated in Shabda Nirnaya that sat bhava is sadhu bhava, having meritorious disposition and we will see this word used again further in the Gita. Therefore for whatever is in righteousness the word sat is used. Whoever has thought they have become a-sat, asat brahmeti, for this person their personal conceptions have become a-sat and consequently they become sorrowful.

It should not be misconstrued that the purpose of this verse is to deny the existence of what is appearing now in the present, was non-existing before creation and would be non-existent after destruction. This would be a contradiction in itself. The statement nasato vidyate bhavo is specifically used to emphasise a spiritual truth. Although in normal everyday life people relate to the material manifestation as if it did not exist before and will also cease to exist hereafter. For example a flower to be offered to the Lord which blossomed today, did not exist last week and by next week it will have ceased to exist but still it is utilised while it is here. So there is no reason to reflect that any of this is due to delusion.

Thus it is stated in the Brahma Tarka :

All acts prior to creation and all acts after the dissolution of creation cease to exist is the Vedic statement. If in each action the specific form was not manifest before it was born but came to be formed only later, then wisdom and normal circumstances would not justify such a statement. If according to wisdom and normal circumstances an archetype existed before the form came to exist then before anything is born it did not, in fact exist. Even due to the experiences of modification there is action and its result. Because of these modifications the experiences of the physical body become apparent. Normal affairs in this world take place on the basis of these modifications and the experience connected with these modifications solely.

It is not correct to accept that this world is made up of special attributes such as sat the Ultimate Truth due to its perception of modification and a-sat as the physical manifestation by its being self evident. Both the experiences are subjected to delusion. The physical manifestation is spoken as such because it is evident not because it is understood. If it is non-existent then its knowledge is without purpose even if it is non-manifesting.

A falsehood can never be validated by another falsehood. In delusion the false appearing as truth can never be accepted as real. In normal life the unreal cannot cease to be in any case. That which exists as its form may also appear as real and the same is the case with delusion.

Even though it is indescribable, when what is real appears as truth verily such appearance of truth cannot be accepted as false on the assumption that it is delusion. Thus the truth which appears as unreal should also be accepted then there is no contradiction.

In the Vedic scriptures it is stated the cosmic manifestation is truth. What is created is the truth. The sages and rishi’s who contemplating deeply describe the Ultimate Truth as Self evolved and Self evident and by such words declare the eternal existence of all things created.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya: Ramanuja

Ramanuja's Commentary

That which is known to be asat or material cannot be made to be sat or spiritual and that which is sat or spiritual annot be made to be asat or material. To those established in truth, the ultimate nature of both are matters discerned by the direct perception of observation.

The literal meaning of anta is end. Here it means the summation or conclusion of the essential natures of sat and asat. The authoritative conclusion arrived at by elevated sages in this matter is that the nature of the physical body is asat being temporary and that the nature of the spiritual soul is sat being eternal. That which is asat is therefore known by its perishable nature and that which is sat is known by its imperishable nature. Hence it is clear that what is indicated by satva and asatva are the soul and the body.

In the Visnu Purana the reverend sage Parasara states: knowledge of the atma or soul is indeed satyam or truth and everything else is that which is not truth. That which is imperishable is that which is the highest truth. But that which is derived by means of perishable things is undoubtedly perishable as well.

The context here has no connection or reference to what is known as satkarya-vada of the Sankhya philosophy which vaguely states: what is not cannot come to be and what is cannot cease to be. For in this context the Supreme Lord Krishna is specifically instructing Arjuna to dispel his delusion, due to not correctly understanding the difference between the perishable nature of the body and the imperishable nature of the soul. It was in order to emphasise this that the previous verse Chapter 2, verse 2 was spoken and it is to further elaborate this subject that the subsequent two verses are revealed. But how is it that the souls imperishable nature is known? The next verse states this.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya: Nimbaditya

Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

It is seen that one feels extreme discomfort due to bodily experiences of excessive heat and cold and the like; if this is the case then what is the experience for one who remains unconscious of the soul even unto the moment of a very painful demise. How can they realize that heat, cold and pain to be impermanent and how can they imagine the eternal reality of the souls immortality. Such questions and bewilderment is clarified by Lord Krishna with the words in the impermanent like heat, cold, pleasure and pain there is no duration and in the permanent as the eternal soul there is no cessation. It must be understood that this nature of the duration and cessation of things in this world cannot be ascertained by one lacking spiritual intelligence. Lord Krishna emphasizes the point that the reality of the duration and cessation in the material existence has been perceived by those elevated souls who have attained the Ultimate Truth. The eternal reality of the souls immortality is revealed in various places in the Vedic scriptures and this has been realized by those who have achieved this understanding.
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