Gita Study: Class 24


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2 verses 21 and 22

 Highlights of today’s class:

Verse 2.21:

vedavinasinam nityam ya enamajamavyayam | katham sa purushah partha kam ghatayati hanti kam ||

  • The idea from prior two verses about the absence of doership in atma is continued in this verse. Additionally it is stated that a person who knows oneself to be the atma cannot cause another to perform action in addition to oneself not performing action.
  • In this verse atma is described as avinasi (without nasa or destruction), nityah (not limited by time), ajah (without having birth), avyayah (without having decay).
  • We recapped the distinction between karma-sannyasa (sannyasa as a lifestyle) and sarva-karma-sannnyasa (the wisdom gained through jnana, self-knowledge).
  • Jnana or self-knowledge is independent of lifestyle. A jnani could be in bramhacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha or sannyasa ashrama. King Janaka is an often-quoted example of a jnani in grihastha ashrama. Krishna was also a jnani leading grihastha lifestyle.
  • Samsara in Sanskrit refers to the cycle of repeated births and deaths. Except for Jnani everyone else is called as samsari or ajnani (samsari or ajnani could be in any of the four ashramas).

    badhita kartrtva (negated doer-ship or as-though doership)

  • Doership or kartrtva is negated in atma by a jnani by way of negation called badha. There are two types of negation – nishedha and badha. Nishedha is complete removal, perception and actual. Badha on other hand is removal through knowledge even though perception remains.
  • Examples of badha negation include: Inspite of seeing the sun rise every morning in the eastern sky, we know that in reality sun is not rising in the east and moving westward; the earth is rotating away from the sun in the opposite direction. Inspite of seeing the earth flat for as far as we can see, we don’t mistake it for a flat surface since we know it is spherical. Inspite of seeing the blueness of sky we don’t mistake the presence of a blue colored object at the horizon. Inspite of seeing the appearance of water on a hot surface such as a road we know it to be a mirage and not real water. In all these cases, perception is negated by knowledge of the reality. Similarly in badhita kartrtva, the perception of doing an action is negated by the knowledge that atma is non-doer. Such kartrtva becomes “as-tough kartrtva”.

Verse 2.22:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naroparani | tatha sarirani vihaya jirnanyanyani samyati navani dehi ||

  • This verse contains the well-known metaphor of a person discarding worn-out clothes and putting on newer-ones. In the same way, even the dehi, the indweller of the body, discards worn-out body and takes on a new one.
  • For people of many cultures, there is belief in the existence of an entity that survives death of the physical body, usually called soul or jivatma. In the Vedic vision, the jiva undergoes the cycle of birth and death many times. With each birth it takes up a new body and when that body is worn out the jiva gives it up and takes up another new body.
  • Here we saw the discussion on situations where even bodies that are not worn-out also being discarded, either due to abuse of one’s will or due to one’s prarabdha karma.
  • Ishwara or God is the reason for jiva’s birth to the extent that He provides the infrastructure for birth and survival to take place, He creates the world, the laws that govern life, etc. Ishwara is called the samanya karana for a jiva’s birth. The jiva’s own prarabdha karma is the particular cause or visesha karana for the particular type of body acquired, the type of experiences to be undergone, the lifespan, etc. Thus jiva creates its own destiny supported by Ishwara’s laws.
  • We saw an example to illustrate this in the dialogue between fire and the finger. It is true that fire burnt the finger, but in reality fire did not go after the finger to burn it. The finger went too close to the fire and got burnt.
  • We will resume this discussion next week.

om tat sat


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