Gita Study: Class 22


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2 verse 18

 Highlights of today’s class:

Verse 2.18:

antavanta ime deha nityasyoktaah saririnah| anasino’prameyasya tasmadyudhyasva bharata ||

  • In this verse Krishna elaborates further the message of the prior verse, which was that the sat-vastu or atma is indestructible. Highlights of this verse are (a) a few adjectives are introduced here to describe the nature of the atma. (b) an adjective is used for the deha (physical body) (c) the relationship between the bodies and the atma is briefly mentioned and (d) Krishna exhorts Arjuna to standup and fight.
  • Atma is nityah: Nitya means eternal, that which is not subject to change.
  • Atma is sariri: Sariri is the one who dwells in the sarira or physical body.
  • Atma is anasi: Anasi means one that has no nasa or destruction.
  • Atma is aprameya: A prameya is one that can be known or grasped by a means of knowledge or pramana. Aprameya is that which cannot be known by any means of knowledge.
  • Atma cannot be known in the conventional way we know objects of the world, that is through the pratyaksha or anumana pramanas, atma being the enabler/enlivener of the sense organs and faculty of inference. It also cannot be ‘known’ by the third type of pramana viz. sastra pramana. This has to be understood. Otherwise the question arises why study the sastra? Study of sastra is required to dispel the wrong notions we have about atma. Atma is ever present and ever known to all of us, but due to ignorance we take ourselves to be other than atma, we take ourselves to be a jiva. This ignorance is removed by sastra.
  • Deha means the physical body. Dehaah is plural form of deha, meaning, physical bodies. Krishna says in this verse that the physical bodies are antavantah, that is, subject to anta or an end. The physical bodies are subject to end or destruction.
  • A subtle point is the usage of plural for the physical bodies (dehaah) and the singular for atma (saririnah, nityasya, anasinah, aprameyasya, which are in the sixth case singular). This is in accordance with the vision of Vedanta which is, that atma is ever one, non-dual existence. Bodies may be many but atma is one. This will be examined and understood as we proceed in the study of Gita.
  • Finally with this clear understanding of the destructible nature of physical bodies and the indestructible atma, Krishna asks Arjuna to get up and engage in the battle. The message is to do what is to be done. The to-be-done action for Arjuna at that time happened to be to engage in battle, therefore Krishna is urging Arjuna to fight. To say that Krishna’s teaching in Gita is for people to fight would be an incorrect conclusion.

om tat sat


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