Quest – Bhagvad Gita – Part 4

नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमा परो यत् ।
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरम्।। (Rigveda. 10.129)

Nasadiya Sukta (नासदीय सूक्त) ……… It is said that the description of the origin of creation given in this hymn (129) in the 10th Mandala of Rigveda, matches with the one in Big Bang Theory (not the TV serial!). It is astonishing to find resemblance between thoughts of two seekers with distinct paths. A philosopher and a scientist.

It is a wonderful fact that a scientist proves what a philosopher stated ages ago. What could be the reason? If you go a little deeper, you can see the similarities between the two. Both are intellectuals. Both embark on different paths but seek a common goal. The scientist seeks eternal happiness through material progress, while the philosopher, through spiritual progress …

The scientific progress that has been made over the years makes mankind happier but puzzles the scientist. Is man really happy after creating so many means of material happiness? The answer is definitely negative. Because if that were the case, there would be no need to build more means of happiness. The philosopher also plunges into this riddle. New tools make people happy, but only momentarily. So what are those that keep them happy forever? Is Happiness really in the tools or elsewhere?

Arjuna too falls into this dilemma. After winning the war, he will get the kingdom, he will get all the means of happiness, but he will have to suffer the pain of killing his own relatives. If he doesn’t not fight, he won’t suffer the loss of extermination, but there will be contempt for being a weakling. Essence is, there’s no happiness without a smidgen of sorrow. But he’s looking for happiness that will last forever and be free from sorrows. With a chaotic mindset, Arjuna makes somewhat uncertain decision to not fight. He then turns to Krishna and says –

कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः ।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्‌।। Gita 2.7।।

A chaotic mindset has weakened my ability to act. I am asking you to (please) explain what’s good for me since I am your disciple.

Now it’s Krishna’s turn to enlighten a confused but studious seeker. The theory has to be potent enough to satisfy Arjuna, a scholarly disciple.

With great skill, Krishna convinces Arjuna, why he should continue to battle. Moreover, Krishna raises the path of eternal happiness before him by unfolding concepts like the nature of existence, the importance of karma, the stability of intellect and the steadfast attitude that comes with the knowledge of all these, respectively.

Sankhya Yoga ….

It is believed that the seeds of Sankhya principle can be traced back as far as Rigveda. Sankhya ….. a theory… which fascinated thinkers from Rigvedic sages to Buddhist scholars. Principle, that finds a place in many schools of thought such as Buddhism and Jainism. References or versions of Sankhya school are found in Rigveda, Upanishadas (Shwetashvatara श्वेताश्वतर, Taittiriya तैत्तिरीय, Aitareya ऐतरेय, Brihadaranyaka बृहदारण्यक), Baudhayana’s Grihyasutra (बौधायन गृह्यसूत्र), Patanjali’s Yogasutra (पतंजली योगसूत्र) and Charaksamhita (चरकसंहीता). Links go even to Chinese translation of Parmartha1 (परमार्थ).  Sankhya… a word in itself has enough material to compose a separate thesis. But for now we will only look at Sankhya in the context of the 2nd chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

Just as the entire world of computers is made up of binary 0 and 1 so is the universe, according to Sankhya, made up of 2 eternal principles. Sankhya means number and Yoga means unification. The entire existence is formed through unification of these 2 eternal principles. Purusha (पुरुष) and Prakriti (प्रकृती). ‘Purusha (पुरुष)’ is an imperishable, everlasting, numerous element and ‘Prakriti(प्रकृती)’ is perishable, capricious element. Prakriti is classified into multiple predetermined elements (Mahabhuta) collaborating to create an assorted world. The principle of Prakriti stands for all things that are mortal, while Purusha is the indestructible soul/energy. The combination of these two creates existence. When the mortal form perishes, the soul is liberated and absorbed into another being in the Prakriti. Such is a skeletal framework of Sankhya Philosophy.

Now let’s look into Gita … Krishna splits his rationale in three parts based on the Sankhya principle.

  • Reality of existence
  • Balancing Perspectives, practising equanimity.
  • Portrayal of the Unwavering (स्थितप्रज्ञ) – Practitioner of equanimity

Krishna handles this like a skilled counsellor. He emphatically states that it is indecent for a valiant Arjuna to behave cowardly. He is already mourning on an intended destruction while he does not even have knowledge of creation.

अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे। गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ।।Gita 2.11।।

You are not only mourning for the unavoidable but also upholding an argument in its favour! The learned neither lament for those who are dead nor for the living.

The body is made up of – perishable elements Prakriti, and the soul (Aatman -आत्मन्) is immortal –  Purusha. It is certain that the body will perish whether or not you destroy it. What does this mean? This means it is irrational to grieve and argue about the inevitable. No matter how hard you try, no one will live beyond their existential boundary. Even you, me or monarchs around us won’t be living forever.

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः । न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।।Gita 2.12।।

Never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these rulers (e.g. Kauravas) and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future.

Then why and how much to mourn? The death of the one who is born is inevitable. This is the law of creation.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that it is pointless to grieve for the departed or even the living! Whatever born is destroyed. It yields and perishes. That is seen momentarily of course by the subject of external senses.

After all, the body of an enemy, relative or anyone else is mortal. Sooner or later it will be destroyed. So there is nothing wrong with Arjuna destroying it when an inevitable war is raging.

This is the first half of Sankhya doctrine in which the perishable principle of Prakriti is manifested. This is true not only about the body, but also about the fact that every element of creation that is perceived through the external senses is mortal. What are the external senses? Eyes, ears, nose, skin…. This means that, what can be seen by the eyes, heard by the ears, smells coming from the nose and touch felt by the skin are all short-lived.

Prakriti is a finite and mutable principle hence it can’t alone serve the human quest of eternal happiness. On the other hand, Purusha/Soul is an indestructible and everlasting principle that binds us and the creator together. Knowledge of Purusha leads to the knowledge of the creator i.e. to the door of eternal happiness.

How does Krishna describe the nature of Soul and further moves to the remaining parts of his explanation…? in the next part …

Footnote:

  1. Parmartha परमार्थ – A 10th Century Buddhist monk. Born in Ujjain in CE 499, Parmartha converted and spread Buddhism in Cambodia initially and then in southern China. He is known for his Chinese translations of many Buddhist texts like Abhidharmakosh (अभिधर्मकोष) and Suvarnaprabhasasutra (सुवर्णप्रभाससुत्र). Parmartha also translated the Sankhya doctrine of Panchshikha and Ishwar Krishna. He died in CE 569 in China.

Copyright sheetaluwach.com 2020 ©

Published by

sheetaluwach

एका देशात जन्म, दुस-या देशाचा नागरीक, तिस-याच देशात स्थायिक, २० वर्षांचे करीअर, ४ देशात नोकरी, १० हून अधिक देशात मुसाफीरी, ४ भाषांची ओळख. शिक्षक, व्यवसायिक, भाषांतरकार, हौशी गाईड, वाचक, श्रोता, वाचाळ, खादाड................. मी एक अनेक.................... Born somewhere, registered elsewhere, settled somewhere else, 20 years’ career, worked in 4 countries, travelled across 10 or more countries, communicates in 4 languages, a teacher, businessman, translator, amateur travel guide, bookworm, audiophile, loquacious, foody………… I am one many……….

3 thoughts on “Quest – Bhagvad Gita – Part 4”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s