Now the teaching begins as Bhagavan starts to explain to Arjuna about ‘Atma Jnana’ or Knowledge of the Self. Bhagavan explains to Arjuna that the ‘Soul or Atma’ is eternal, it always existed and never dies. The body is just an encasement that is subject to decay over time and hence a perishable for which he need not grieve, as it will perish sooner or later.
2.11 Shloka 2.11
अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे ।
गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ।।2.11।।
Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase |
Gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah ||2.11||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.
Bhagavan at once took the position of the teacher and chastised the student, calling him, indirectly, a fool. Bhagavan said, you are talking like a learned man, but you do not know that one who is learned—one who knows about the body and the soul— does not lament for the body at any stage, neither in the living nor dead.
In order to evoke the power of discrimination between the physical body and the soul, Shri Krishna rejecting Arjuna’s contention and replied that he was grieving for those who should not be grieved for. Shri Krishna responds to Arjuna’s statement in chapter 1, verse 32 where he says: Of what use is the kingdom, this fabulous wealth and enjoyments or even living if it is to obtained by killing one’ kins.
The body is born and is destined decay and vanish sometime in the future, lamenting for something known to be a perishable is foolish. One who knows that the Atma is ‘Nitya’ or eternal is actually the learned man, and for him there is no cause for lamentation, regardless of the condition of the gross body.
Those who are illumined due to realization are ‘prajnah’ or wise and knowledgeable. ‘Avadah’ means they who are opposed to the Vedic injunctions. Whatever the wise and knowledgeable proclaim is always in conformity with the Vedic injunctions. Whatever is contrary to the Vedic injunctions on any level of consciousness is not worthy of contemplation.
The Mundaka Upanishad states that one who has realised the Ultimate Truth, whose heart is calm and whose senses are under control, such a person who is enlightened should compulsorily impart the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth to others by which they can also become self-realised.
Those with spiritual intelligence do not grieve for the dead or the living. The root word of ‘panditah’ is ‘panda’ meaning ‘learned’ or one endowed with the power of discriminative intellect. Those who possess such discrimination are considered wise. The wise never lament for the physical body.
Encompassing all that exists, internal and external is the Supreme. Everything existing is manifested from Him. One who is peaceful and tranquil should propitiate and worship under all circumstances. Under the control of the Supreme the whole cosmic manifestation functions.
In the Katha Upanishad, it says:
Bhayaad asya agnis tapati bhayaat Tapati Suryah |
Bhayaat Indrashcha Vaayushcha Mrityur Dhaavati Panchamah || K.U. 2.6.3
Meaning: Out of Fear for Him the fire burns, for fear of Him shines the Sun, for the fear of Him do Indra, the wind (Vaayu) and Death (Yama), the fifth proceed with their respective functions’. In other words the Nature obeys His laws unquestioningly and with total commitment as though out of fear of him.
We have a similar Mantra in the Taittriya Upanishad (2.8.1):
Bhisha asmad vatah pavate bhishodeti Suryah
Bhisha asmad agnish cha indresh cha Mrutyurdhavati panchama iti |
Meaning: Out of fear of Him the wind blows; Out of fear of Him the Sun rises; Out of fear of Him burns the Fire, as also Indra and Death, the fifth proceeds to their respective duties.
The all-pervading, omnipresent, soul of all being and of the nature of being eternally, simultaneously one and distinctly different.
2.12 Shloka 2.12
न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः ।
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।।2.12।।
Na tvevaham jatu nasam Na tvam neme janadhipah |
Na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param ||2.12||
Meaning: Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.
Bhagavan is explaining that the Atma is eternal and always existed and it is the body that takes different forms.
In the Katha Upanishad it says:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati Kaamaan |
Tam atmastham ye ‘nupasyanti dhiras tesam santih sasvati netaresam ||K.U. 2.2.13||
Meaning: The Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligence among the intelligent, who, though one, fulfils the desires of many—those dhiras (persistent, brave and calm) who perceive Him as existing within their own self, to them belong eternal peace and to none else.
Atman is described in a few significant phrases:
एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा, नित्योऽनित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानाम् |
eko vashi sarvabhutAntarAtma, nityo’nityaanaaṃ cetanas cetananaam |
एको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान् |
Eko bahunaaṃ yo vidadhaati kaamaan |
The Supreme One who is the Controller of all, who is Antaryami – the inner Self of all beings, the Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligent among the intelligent, and who, though One, fulfils the desires of the many.
The same Vedic truth given to Arjuna is given to all persons in the world who pose themselves as very learned but they actually have very poor knowledge. It is not that they did not exist as individuals in the past, and it is not that they will not remain eternal persons. Their individuality existed in the past, and their individuality will continue in the future without interruption. Therefore, there is no cause for lamentation for anyone.
Bhagavan does not deal with the liberation the individual soul here and says that it existed in the past and will do so in the future as well, as confirmed in this Upanishad.
When we begin learning we move from a basic level to intermediate level and finally to the advanced level. Hence the concept of salvation or Moksha will be introduced in the later Chapters.
The Skanda Purana contains the following:
There is no possibility of any destruction of the Ultimate Consciousness of the Supreme. The same applies to the individual consciousness of all living entities as the Lord is the Antaryami (inner self). The connection and disconnection from the physical body is known as birth and death. This is the reality for all living entities.
So this explains and puts into the proper perspective the dissolution of the material manifestation at the time of universal destruction. By negating the origin and destruction of the soul, its very existence is proven in all three stages of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. All souls are immortal and hence should never be grieved for.
2.13 Shloka 2.13
देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा ।
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति ।।2.13।।
Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara |
Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati ||2.13||
Meaning: As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realised soul is not bewildered by such a change.
Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man. Yet the same spirit soul is there and does not undergo any change. This individual soul finally changes the body at death and transmigrates to another body; and since it is sure to have another body in the next birth—either material or spiritual—there was no cause for lamentation by Arjuna on account of death, neither for Bhisma nor for Drona, for whom he was so much concerned.
As Bhishma and Drona, being noble souls, were surely going to have either spiritual bodies in the next life, or at least life in heavenly bodies for superior enjoyment of material existence. So, in either case, there was no cause for lamentation.
Any man who has perfect knowledge of the constitution of the individual soul, the Supersoul, and nature—both material and spiritual—is called a dhira or a most sober man. Such a man is never deluded by the change of bodies.
The body is just the container and when the soul departs, the body has no further identification with the soul and returns to its elements. While the soul remains within the physical body in all three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, it is possible to perceive the existence of the soul as an independent consciousness.
The soul cannot be destroyed. Hence the statement ‘dehinah’ meaning the soul being the occupier of the deha. With the deterioration and demise of the body comes the acceptance of a new body. Therefore if perceived as a further modification of the body after old age, there is no justification for sorrow.
2.14 Shloka 2.14
मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः ।
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ।।2.14।।
Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah |
Agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata ||2.14||
Meaning: O’ Son of Kunti, the interaction of the senses and the sense objects give cold, heat, pleasure and pain. These are temporary, appearing and disappearing from time to time, therefore O’ Bharata, learn to tolerate them.
The two different names to address Arjuna are also significant. To address him as Kaunteya signifies his proximity of blood relations from his mother’s side; and to address him as Bharata signifies his greatness from his father’s side. He has a great heritage from both sides and that brings with it responsibility to properly discharge duties; therefore, he cannot avoid fighting.
‘Matra’ (Tanmatras – Touch, Sound, Speech, Taste and Smell) means sensuous experience and ‘sparsas’ means contact with them thus matra-sparsas is the interaction of the senses with the sense objects. Although it is the body that actually experiences these things, anyone with lack of sufficient knowledge who considers that they are their body automatically classifies the soul as the body as well and this misconception is the cause of all sorrow.
Since it is evident that contact with the senses is experienced only in the waking state and not in any other state; it is clear that only when there is contact with the physical body which includes the mind, is there an effect and this proves that the individual consciousness itself is not affected.
Consequently when the individual consciousness is deluded into relating to itself as the body, pleasure and pain is experienced; but when the individual consciousness sees itself as separate from the physical body then the sorrow arising from the death of friends and relatives would not arise.
Therefore one should just tolerate them with discrimination, patience and fortitude for they will disappear in due course of time. So the one who attain this spiritual intelligence that the soul is eternal they neither lament nor are they deluded.
2.15 Shloka 2.15
यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ ।
समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ।।2.15।।
Yam hi na vyathayanty ete purusam purusarsabha |
Sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram so ‘mrtatvaya kalpate ||2.15||
Meaning: O best among men [Arjuna], that person who is of wise judgment is equipoised in happiness and distress, who is steady and not be disturbed by these is certainly eligible for liberation.
Anyone who is steady in his determination for the advanced stage of spiritual realisation and is equipoised in distress and happiness is certainly a person eligible for liberation. In the varna ashrama institution, the fourth stage of life, namely the sannyasa (renounced life) is a painstaking stage. But one who is serious about making his life perfect adopts the sannyasa order of life in spite of all difficulties.
The difficulties usually arise from having to sever family relationships, to give up the connection of wife and children. But if anyone is able to tolerate such difficulties, surely his path to spiritual realisation is complete. Similarly, in Arjuna’s discharge of duties as a khsatriya, he is advised to persevere, even if it is difficult, to fight with his family members or similarly beloved persons.
When one has relinquished all conceptions of being the physical body one becomes naturally filled with the spiritual attributes that are inherent of the soul. Fixed in this awareness one is known as a Purusha, and the word ‘pura’ in purusha signifies full or complete, so complete with noble attributes and full in wisdom, the meaning of the word Purusha is ‘illuminated’.
2.16 Shloka 2.16
नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः |
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ।।2.16।।
Nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah |
Ubhayor api drsto ‘ntas tv anayos tattva-darsibhih ||2.16||
Meaning: In the unreal there is no duration and in the real there is no cessation; indeed the distinction between both of these have been analysed by the knowers’ of the truth and established conclusively by them.
The body undergoes physical changes but is not enduring. But the spirit or the soul exists permanently, remaining the same despite all the changes to the body and the mind. That is the difference between matter and spirit.
In the Vishnu Purana it is stated that Sri MahaVishnu and His abodes all have self-illuminated spiritual existence – ‘Jyotimsi Vishnur bhavanani Vishnuh’.
The statement ‘nasato vidyate bhavo’ is specifically used to emphasise a spiritual truth. For e.g. a flower to be offered to the Lord which blossomed today, did not exist last week and will perish by next week but is utilised while available. While the existence of the flowers is real appearing as real it’s not durable and hence ‘asat’ or ‘mithya’.
Sri RamanujAcharya states that which is known to be asat or material cannot be made to be sat or spiritual and that which is sat or spiritual cannot 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’ means end and in this verse it means the summation or conclusion of the essential natures of sat and asat. The authoritative conclusion arrived by great 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.
The Vishnu Purana states: knowledge of the ‘atma or soul’ is indeed satyam or truth and everything else is ‘not truth’. That which is imperishable is the highest truth and that which is derived by means of perishable things is undoubtedly perishable as well.
The nature of the duration and cessation of things in this world cannot be learnt by one lacking spiritual intelligence. Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises 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 immortality of the soul is revealed in the Vedic scriptures and this has been realised by those who have achieved this understanding. Bhagavan Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that due to his improper understanding of the difference between the perishable nature of the Body and the imperishable nature of the Soul, he is needlessly grief-stricken.
2.17 Shloka 2.17
अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ।
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्िचत् कर्तुमर्हति ।।2.17।।
Avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam |
Vinasam avyayasya na kascit kartum arhati ||2.17||
Meaning: Know that which pervades the entire body (Consciousness or Soul) is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.
This verse more clearly explains the real nature of the soul, which is spread all over the body in the form of consciousness. Everyone is conscious of the pains and pleasures of the body and hence this spreading of consciousness is limited within one’s own body. Therefore, each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul, and the symptom of the soul’s presence is perceived as individual consciousness. This soul is described as one ten-thousandth part of the upper portion of the hair point in size. The Svetasvatara Upanishad confirms this:
balagra-sata-bhagasya satadha kalpitasya ca |
bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate ||5.9||
Meaning: That individual soul is as subtle as a hair-point divided and sub-divided hundreds of times. Yet He is potentially infinite and has to be known.
Therefore, the individual particle of spirit soul is a spiritual atom smaller than the material atoms, and such atoms are innumerable. This very small spiritual spark is the basic principle of the material body, and the influence of such a spiritual spark is spread all over the body as the influence of the active principle of some medicine spreads throughout the body. This current of the spirit soul is felt all over the body as consciousness, and that is the proof of the presence of the soul. Any layman can understand that the material body minus consciousness is a dead body, and this consciousness cannot be revived in the body by any means of material administration. Therefore, consciousness is not due to any amount of material combination, but to the spirit soul.
In the Mundaka Upanisad the nature of the atomic spirit soul is further explained:
eso ‘nuratma cetasa veditavyo yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesa |
pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam yasmin visuddhe vibhavaty esa atma ||3.1.9||
Meaning: The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.”
The hatha-yoga system is meant for controlling the five kinds of air encircling the pure soul by different kinds of sitting postures—not for any material gain, but for liberation of the minute soul from the entanglement of the material atmosphere.
When a hammer strikes an object with excessive force an extreme vibration produces a molecular disruption which causes the destruction of the object. But in the case of the soul there is no potential for destruction. For e.g. when light penetrates a glass jar, the light is not destroyed when the glass is broken; similarly the soul is like light in relation to the body, thus imperishable.
Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the definitive position of the soul with the word ‘avyayasya’ meaning indestructible. The pervasiveness of the Soul is so extremely subtle that it is impossible for anything to cause the destruction because whatever would be attempting to destroy it is also completely pervaded by it as well.
2.18 Shloka 2.18
अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः ।
अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत ।।2.18।।
antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah |
anasino ‘prameyasya tasmad yudhyasva bharata ||2.18||
Meaning: The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible, immeasurable and infinite. Only the material body is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O’ descendant of Bharata.
The material body is perishable by nature. It may perish immediately, or it may do so after a hundred years. It is a matter of time. But the spirit soul is indestructible and is so minute that that no one has any idea of how to measure it. So from both viewpoints there is no cause for lamentation because the living entity (Soul) cannot be destroyed and the material body cannot be protected forever.
In the Vedanta-sutras the living entity is qualified as light because he is part and parcel of the Supreme light. As Sunlight maintains the entire universe, so does the light of the soul which maintains this material body. As soon as the spirit soul is out of this material body, the body begins to decompose; therefore it is the spirit soul that maintains the body. The body itself is unimportant, hence, Arjuna was advised to fight.
In the Taittiriya Upanisad it is stated :
One who knows the Supreme Lord as the Ultimate Truth, as what is real, as what is knowledge and as what is infinite; simultaneously existing within the heart of all living entities as well as in the eternal spiritual world has realised all there is that needs to be known.
Transcending to that state of awareness which consists of total bliss, descending and ascending in various worlds, assuming the form one desires, all actions manifesting according to one’s desires, one sings and chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna in sublime ecstasy. Attaining this transcendental state of affinity to the Supreme Lord, being completely protected in this state, the individual soul resides blissfully in full consciousness.
In the BrihadAranyaka Upanisad it is stated:
In that state of liberation there is no seeing although everything is seen. Because of attaining the transcendental state, becoming imperishable in consciousness, there is nothing perceived other than the transcendental state which permeates everything and which the Self is. Thus there is nothing separate from the Self which can be differentiated and in this way everything can be seen as transcendental, as Brahman.
If by liberation the individual consciousness ceases to exist then what is the purpose of deliverance? The reverend sage Yajnavalkya eradicated this doubt by clarifying that in this transcendental state all the mundane academic perceptions of empirical knowledge cease to exist being replaced by the transcendental perception and realisation of the Ultimate Truth. How could it ever be possible that cessation of mundane perceptions of empirical knowledge could simultaneously cause cessation of the Soul? It is not possible nor can it ever be possible. The eternal Soul being independent from the mind and body is not subject to cessation.
Essentially the Bhagavan is different from the creation of the material manifestation. Because the Universe is dependent upon creation it is said to be different as it is. In regard to enjoyment of the senses of smell, sight etc. they are known to be perceived only due to the potency generated by the presence of the Soul. Thus the empirical experience of the Self is similar to the realisation of the Supreme Lord. There is nothing else is to be known when one realises one’s Soul one as he/she realises the Supreme Brahman.
When the soul does not see anything as different from its own Self then there is no perception of separateness from anything and there is oneness with everything, in the same way the Supreme Lord does not see anything as separate from Himself. When one attains this state of perception there is no separateness between the individual consciousness and the Ultimate Consciousness and there is no delusion ever regarding knowledge of the Supreme.
Neither liberated souls nor the material substratum can be superior to Bhagavan. But by knowledge of Him, by knowledge of His name and form, by having knowledge of His sagacious instructions, by the knowledge of His pastimes, qualities and associates all living entities can experience the essence of the Supreme Lord according to their abilities. When one attains communion with the Supreme Lord how can there be any difficulties? How can there be any ignorance? How can there be any bewilderment? It is not possible for one to be liberated without the grace of the Supreme Lord.
From ‘aheya’ the word ‘aham’ has been derived which symbolises the immutable Supreme Lord Krishna. Because He possesses all attributes He is known as ‘Para Brahman’. He is known as ‘asmi’ because he destroys all evil and is existing eternally. Being resplendent He is known as ‘tvam’. All these words intimating activity, intimating elements and intimating attributes refer solely to the Supreme Lord. Because He is the foremost among all performers of activities He is known as yushmat. Because He abides in the heart of all living entities with His potencies He is known by the word asmat and because He is imperceivable He is known by the word tat. On attaining self- realisation one will understand that all these indications represent only His predominant role.
The Story of Svetaketu
The greatest of the great mahavakyas ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (‘That Thou Art’ or ‘You Are That’) originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad (c.600 BCE) in the dialogue between Sage Uddalaka Aruni, the father and his son Svetaketu where the father explains the relationship between the individual and the Absolute. Svetaketu is more like a disciple than a son, and Uddalaka more like a Guru than a father.
‘Tat’ is the Brahman and ‘tvam’ the divine self, the Atman that resides in all beings. ‘Asi’ is an affirmation that harmonises the Brahman and Atman. The statement is frequently repeated in the sixth chapter as the father who is also the teacher instructs his son regarding the nature of Brahman, the supreme reality.
Sage Uddalaka was deeply concerned about his young son Svetaketu. His son had just returned home full of pride in his Vedic learning after 12 years from an eminent guru. Having studied all the Vedas the Sage Svetaketu becoming extremely conceited, arrogantly assumed because he was so knowledgeable that he was not human but a partial manifestation of the Supreme Lord Himself. Thinking thus, he became disrespectful to his own father.
His father said to him: ‘Svetaketu, I know you have learned a lot, can you tell me by which we hear the unhearable, perceive the unperceivable, know the unknowable?’
‘Sir, I am not aware of that knowledge,’ said Svetaketu. ‘I request you to please teach me that essential thing by which everything else becomes known?’
Uddhakala Aruni answered the question himself.
‘That is Brahman, the truth, the subtle essence of all and the Self. Son, you are aware of the fact that there are many products made out of clay, but the clay is the real thing. Likewise there are also different forms of gold ornaments but the real thing is the gold.
Even if the forms and names are lost, the essence of the article is revealed as clay or gold. That essential nature is the ultimate truth. Forms and names are immaterial to know the Reality, which is the Supreme Being’.
‘Son, by knowing the material cause (gold/clay) all its effects (ornaments/pots) are known. This universe with all its myriad forms and features was earlier with the One and the real Brahman. That Brahman is the material and intelligent cause of this Jagat or this World.
It is the ultimate reality, but it did not create anything, everything is projected out of its own being– but not as a separate entity, for, son, Brahman is within everything as its own Reality, as its Self, as its subtle essence, and that, my dear Svetaketu, That Art Thou’.
Svetaketu says, “My Gurus did not appear to have understood all these things. They never taught me these things,” says the boy to the father. “If they had known this, why should they have not told this to me? I have never heard these things up to this time. I have studied the four Vedas, I have studied the Shastras, but nothing of this kind was heard from any quarter. What is this? Please, sir, I want to know more about this Self.’
Uddlaka Aruni began to explain to his son, “My dear boy, there was only a single Reality existing in the beginning. There was no variety of life forms. It was one, without a second. There was nothing outside it; nothing external to it, to compete with it, to equal it or to be different from it. There is no conceivable reality in this world of this nature. Whatever be the stretch of your imagination, you cannot conceive of something outside which nothing is. At least space would be there, time would be there, something would be there. But even space and time are objects, externals, effects that came afterwards in the process of creation. And, therefore, they too are negated in the case of this reality. That alone was.”
Uddalaka went on further, “there are some people who think that, originally, Non-Being as an origin of things under peculiar conditions. But how can Being come from Non-Being? Has anyone seen such a phenomenon? But how can something out of nothing? We have never heard of such a possibility.
So Uddalaka says: “My dear boy, though it is true that there are people who hold the doctrine that Being proceeded out of Non-Being as an effect, but this is not a practicability. It is inconceivable. Non-Being cannot be the cause of Being. Nor can we say that Being is the cause of Being. It is a tautology of expression. ‘A is the cause of A’—you cannot say that. It is a meaningless way of speaking. If Being is also not the cause of Being, then what is the cause of Being?
No cause. There cannot be a cause for Being. So it must be a causeless Being. If it has a cause, we must explain what that cause could be, and the cause should be either Being or Non-Being. There cannot be a third thing. Being cannot be the cause of Being; Non-Being also cannot be the cause of Being, so there is No cause for Being. It is causeless existence.
If there is no cause then you have to say that there is no such thing as an effect. But if there is no such thing as an effect, how comes the creation? If creation has to be explained, the nature of an effect has to be explained; but you cannot understand what an effect is. And therefore you cannot understand what creation is.
But there was creation. So, there must be a Creator. How can there be creation without a Creator? The Creator was the Absolute Being. This is what I posit as the Ultimate Reality. And what would be the process of creation and the cause for creation? The intention of the Creator is the cause of creation. The will of the artist is the cause of the manufacture of the effect or the product in the form of sculpture, architectural piece, painting, etc. The intention, the will, the original meditation or tapas, as sometimes it is called, of the Supreme Being is the cause of creation. IT WILLED.
Uddalaka said, “In the beginning of creation, O child, the Sat or True Being alone existed. It had neither an equal nor a second. It thought, ‘Let me multiply myself and create beings.’ He first created Tejas or fire god. The fire god wanted to multiply himself. He created the water god. That is why whenever anybody weeps or perspires, water comes out. The water god wanted to multiply himself and created the food god. Then the True Being thought, ‘I have now created these three gods. Now I shall enter them as Jivatma and assume name and form!’
‘Later on, the True Being thought, ‘I shall now make each of them enter into the other.’ “Having thus entered them with His living spirit, It assumed names and forms like Agni, Indra etc. The True Being made them enter into one another, again. 0 child, now learn what each became thereafter. Whatever was fire showed as red. Whatever was water showed as white and whatever was food showed as black. Thus you will see the word Agni vanishes in fire. This change has only been in name. The three primary forms Tejas, Apas or water and Annam or food are the only true forms.
The red colour of the Sun is Tejas; its white colour is water; its black colour is the food or the earth. Thus the name Aditya for Sun should vanish. It is only a conventional name. “You have now learnt from me, child, how every deity and element is descended from the three primary forms of the True Being.”
“He or the Sat alone is all-name, because every name is His name. He alone is all-power, because every power is His. All the forms that belong to others are reflections of His form. He is the only one without an equal or second. He is the best of all. He being the Chief, He is called Sat or the True Being. Knowing Him we know everything else.
When a man sleeps soundly, he comes into contact with the Sat. When man dies, his speech merges in the mind, the mind in his breath, his breath in the fire and the fire in the Highest God, the True Being. Thus the soul or Jiva-Atman is deathless. All the universe is controlled by the Sat. He pervades it all. He is the destroyer of all. He is full of perfect qualities. O Svetaketu, you are not that God.
The whole universe has That as its soul. That is Reality, That is the Self, and That is you, Svetaketu.
‘Please, sir, tell me more about that subtle essence which is the supreme reality’ said the son.
Uddalaka said, “The bees, my child, collect the honey from different flowers and mix them in the hive. Now, honeys of different flowers cannot know one from the other.
“My child, the rivers that run in the different directions rise from the sea and go back to the sea. Yet the sea remains the same. The rivers, while in the sea, cannot identify themselves as one particular river or another. So also creatures that have come from Sat know not that they have come from that Sat, although they become one or the other again and again.”
‘O.k’, said the father, ‘Bring a fruit of that Nyagrodha [Banyan] tree’.
Uddalaka then asked his son to bring a fig fruit. When he did so, Uddalaka asked him to break it. He broke it.
Uddalaka: “What do you see in it?”
Svetaketu “I see small seeds.”
Uddalaka “Break one of the seeds and say what you see.”
Svetaketu “Nothing Sir.”
Uddalaka: “You are unable to see the minute particles of the seed after breaking it. Now, the big fig tree is born out of that essence of that particle. Like that, the True Being is the essence of all creation.”
Uddalaka asked his son to bring some salt and put it into a cup of water and bring the cup next morning. Svetaketu did so.
Uddalaka: “You put the salt into the water in this cup. Can you take the salt out?
Svetaketu “I am unable to find the salt; for it has dissolved.”
Uddalaka “Taste a drop from the surface of this water.”
Svetaketu “It is saltish.”
Uddalaka “Now taste a drop from the middle of the cup.”
Svetaketu “It tastes the same, saltish.”
Uddalaka: “Now taste a drop from the bottom.”
Svetaketu “It is saltish all the same.”
Uddalaka “Now child, you do not see the salt, although it is certainly in the water. Even so, the True Being is present everywhere in this universe, although you do not see Him. He is the essence of all, and the desired of all. He is known to the subtlest intellect.”
Svetaketu became humble thereafter, and became a great rishi himself in course of time. Then the father said, “Here likewise in this body of yours, my son, you do not perceive the True; but there, in fact, it is. In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self.
That is the Truth, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That – Tat Tvam Asi.”
Therefore Arjuna is being instructed to unsnare himself from his delusion and do his duty.
2.19 Shloka 2.19
य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम् ।
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते ।।2.19।।
Ya enam vetti hantaram yas cainam manyate hatam |
Ubhau tau na vijanito nayam hanti na hanyate ||2.19||
Meaning: He who thinks that the Soul is the slayer and he who thinks that the Soul is slain; both of them are ignorant and wrong; the Soul neither slays nor is slain.
When an embodied living entity is hurt by fatal weapons, it is to be known that the living entity within the body is not killed. The spirit soul is so small that it is impossible to kill that by any material weapon. Nor is the living entity killable because of its spiritual constitution. What is killed, or is supposed to be killed, is the body only. This, however, does not at all encourage killing of the body. The Vedic injunction is, “mahimsyat sarva-bhutani” never commit violence to anyone. Nor does the understanding that the living entity is not killed encourage animal slaughter. Killing the body of any being without authority is abominable. Arjuna, however, is being engaged in killing for the principle of Dharma, and not whimsically.
The soul being of an eternal nature can never be destroyed by anything nor can the soul ever destroy anything. Not being able to fathom the intrinsic nature of the soul they cannot realize that the soul is never the instigator of any action nor is the soul ever the recipient of any action.
2.20 Shloka 2.20
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि न्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ।।2.20।।
Na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah |
Ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire ||2.20||
Meaning: For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
Qualitatively, the small atomic fragmental part of the Supreme Spirit is one with the Supreme. He undergoes no changes like the body. Sometimes the soul is called the steady, or kutastha.
The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its form in the womb of the mother’s body, is born, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into the oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes. The soul is not born, but, because it takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth, and the soul does not die. Because the soul has no birth, it therefore has no past, present or future. It is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval—that is, there is no trace in history of it coming into being.
In the Katha Upanishad we find a similar passage which reads:
na jayate mriyate va vipascin nayam kutascin na vibhuva kascit
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire ||1.2.18||
The meaning and purport of this verse is the same as in the Bhagavad-gita, but here in this verse there is a special word, ‘vipascit’, which means learned or with knowledge. The soul is full of knowledge, or full always with consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is the symptom of the soul. Even if one does not find the soul within the heart, where he is situated, one can still understand the presence of the soul simply by the presence of consciousness. Sometimes we may not find the Sun in the sky due to the presence of clouds, but the light from the Sun is always there, and we are, therefore, convinced it is daytime. Similarly, since there is some consciousness in all bodies—whether man or animal—we can understand the presence of the Soul. This consciousness of the Soul is, however, different from the consciousness of the Supreme because the Supreme Consciousness is all-knowledge—past, present and future. However, the consciousness of the individual Soul is prone to be forgetful.
There are two kinds of souls—namely the minute particle soul (anu-atma) and the Supersoul (the vibhu-atma). This is also confirmed in the Katha Upanishad in this way:
anor aniyan mahato mahiyan atmasya jantor nihito guhayam |
tam akratuh pasyati vita-soko dhatuh prasadan mahimanam atmanah ||1.2.20||
Meaning: The Atman that is subtler than the sublest, and greater than the greatest, is seated in the cavity of the heart of each living being. He, who is free from willing and wishing, with his mind and senses composed, beholds the majesty of the Self and becomes free from sorrow.
Both the Supersoul [Paramatma] and the atomic soul [jivatma] are situated on the same tress of the body within the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul.
In the Mundaka Upanishad, it says:
द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते ।
तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभिचाकशीति ॥
dva suparṇa sayuja sakhaayaa samaanaṃ vṛkṣaṃ pariṣasvajaate |
tayoranyaḥ pippalaṃ svaadvattyanashnannanyo abhicaakashiti || 3.1.1 ||
Meaning: Two inseparable companions of fine plumage perch on the self-same tree. One of the two feeds on the delicious fruit. The other not tasting of it looks on.
The two birds are the Jiva and Isvara, both existing in an individual compared to a tree. They exist together as the reflection and the original. They both manifest themselves in different ways in every individual. The body is compared to a tree because it can be cut down like a tree. This tree is also called the Kshetra or the field of manifestation and action of the Kshetrajna (the Knower of the field). The body is the field of action and experience and it is the fruit of actions done already. The fruits enjoyed by the Jiva are of the nature of pleasure and pain, i.e., they are all relative experiences born of non-discrimination. The experience of Isvara is eternal and is of the nature of purity, knowledge and freedom.
The eternal soul is also permanent but the eternal soul never exists independently; it has limited power, limited knowledge, incomplete in itself, dependent upon the transcendental energy of the Supreme Lord. In juxtaposition to that are the sublime attributes of the Supreme Lord who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Therefore the holy sages and rishis designated them both as ‘sasvatah’ or permanent. Thus in the Visnu Purana because the living entity is embodied in countless bodies from the beginning of time it is known as puranah meaning ancient. The word purana means ancient. Etymologically it stems from purapi navah meaning old yet new illustrating that the eternal soul although ancient is experienced with every birth as ever new. Thus it has been clarified that the physical body only perishes but never can the eternal soul perish.
The imperishable soul which pervades the physical body of all living entities is aja or unborn and thus it is known to be eternal and constant only changing its external embodied form. The two characteristics of being eternal and constant denote that like the material substratum known as prakriti even the most subtle and infinitesimal modifications in the stage preceding manifestation has no ability in any way to affect the eternal soul.
The living entity and the Supreme Lord are both irrevocably established as unborn, eternal and indestructible. The Supreme Lord possessing a spiritual body does not come into existence by being associated with the material manifestation; but is eternally existing independently. Death correctly comprehended is merely the separation of the embodied soul from the physical body leaving it lifeless.
The soul is never born and never dies at any time. How can this be? The soul exists eternally but opting the experiences of the material existence accepts a physical body. What did not exist in the past but is manifested only in the present is called conceived and that which exists now but will cease to exist eventually is called dead. But the soul is not conceived as it eternally exists and it will never die because it is immortal.
With the two words ‘ajah’ meaning ‘unborn’ and ‘nityah’ meaning eternal, it is made clear that the modifications of birth and death are not applicable with regards to the soul. The modification of any growth of the soul is neutralised by the word ‘puranah’ meaning ancient, that it always existed as it is. The soul is bereft of any of the six modifications of the physical body and hence can never be destroyed and it is only the physical body that is destroyed.
जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!
Hari Om Tat Sat