[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.14

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Thu Dec 8 11:59:30 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya!

though kR^iShNa taught the eternal and all-pervasive
nature of the self in the previous two shloka-s,
arjuna, since he was not an uttamAdhikAri for vedAnta
shravaNa, did not immediately grasp the truth. so, in
order to clarify any doubts that arjuna may have
regarding the presence of qualities not pertaining to
the self like happiness, sadness etc. in him, kR^iShNa
begins to set forth the way one should comport oneself
until the self is realized. (MS mentions that this
verse could also be understood as a refutation of some
views of vaisheShika-s who maintain that the self is
endowed with sukha and dukha besides other qualities.)

mAtrAsparshastu kaunteya sItoShNasukhaduHkhadAH.
AgamApAyino'nityAstAMstitikShasva bhArata.. 2.14

heat and cold, pleasure and pain - (all these) are
produced by the contact of the senses with their
respective objects. they are transient and have a
beginning and an end. bear them (patiently) O bhArata.

here, 'mAtra' refers to any sense organ. 'sparsha'
refers to an object of  a sense organ. or,
'mAtrAsparsha' can refer to the particular
modification of the mind which produces the sense
organs and their objects. these produce varying
effects like happiness and sadness through heat, cold
etc. 'AgamApAyinaH' can either refer to the temporary
nature of these effects or to the mind itself which,
by it's own nature, is constantly changing. since all
these effects have a beginning and an end, they are
transient. so, one has to bear with them with

the self, being eternal and unchanging, cannot have
the mind, which is constantly changing as an attribute
(this refutes the views of vaisheShika-s stated
above). in other words, neither happiness nor sadness
is inherent in the self. 

this verse teaches us the necessity of vairAgya and
titikShA. both are absolutely necessary for us. the
reasoning is straightforward : there is no use in
craving for sense objects since they are transient.
since all objects are sense objects (including
mentally created ones), there is no point in craving
for anything. moreover, what is pleasurable at one
point of time is not at some other point of time. what
is not eternal is not worth striving for. hence, by
this simple method of discrimination, kR^iShNa teaches
us to ignore the lure of the various sense objects and
constantly seek for the eternal and unchanging self.  

the above conclusion can also be arrived at
differently. since all varieties of experience exist
only in the mind, there is no possible proof for the
multiplicity of the self. the one self remains as a
mere witness to all the modifications of the mind.
since only the mind has the attributes like happiness
and sadness, one must ignore these temporary
modifications of the mind with the discrimination,
"all these changes exist only in the mind. they can do
nothing to me". we can be happy or sad only when we
identify ourselves with the mind. thus, as long as the
true self is found out, one must develop the patience
to bear with the everchanging nature of the mind. 

the two arguments stated above are quite different.
the first one is based upon the empirically observed
fact about the transient nature of external objects
and our feelings. the second one is based on the
difference of the self from the mind. 

a minor note : in this verse, heat and cold are
mentioned to show sensory reactions in general. they
may produce either happiness or sadness. but happiness
or sadness themselves cannot change their natures.
this is the reason for mentioning them separately. 

coming to the practical relevance of this verse - what
can be more relevant to us than this? it is a welcome
consolation for us who are tormented by shoka and
moha. it is interesting to note that kR^iShNa taught
this to arjuna not in some remote and calm cave devoid
of human presence, but in a battlefield, filled with
commotion, bloodshed and impending danger to life.
viewing it this way, it is very clear that kR^iShNa's
teaching is not to make us run away from the world,
but to face it with strength and discrimination. our
situation is not very different from arjuna's, though
probably a lot milder. but the message is the same. we
can run away from the world by going to some secluded
spot or by temporarily calming the mind by meditation,
or by sleeping :-) etc., but these are only temporary
solutions - we can never run way from our mind by
these methods. the real solution lies in facing the
world, i.e. our mind, with strong discrimination and
by *continuously* seeking our true self.

it is important to note that 'facing the world' means
being indifferent to the changes occuring in the mind
and being patient until the mind dies by itself. the
basic idea is that if we are indifferent to the
various modifications of the mind, in due course, the
mind becomes calmer and finally dies. when this
happens, the ever present self is realized. 

the effect of this sort of an indifference to the mind
is mentioned by kR^iShNa in the next verse.   

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.

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