[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.12 : part 1
Amuthan Arunkumar R
aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Mon Nov 21 02:43:20 CST 2005
in the previous verse, we saw that kR^iShNa advised arjuna not to grieve, by showing the example of wise men, who do not grieve. now, kR^iShNa gives the reason why grief is to be avoided by teaching that the self is eternal and different from the body (sthUla sharIra).
na tvevAhaM jAtu nAsaM na tvaM neme janAdhipAH.
na chaiva na bhaviShyAmaH sarve vayamataH param..2.12
there was never a time when I or you or all these kings did not exist and there will never be a time when we shall cease to exist.
(this shloka will be dealt with in quite some detail since it apparently suggests an ultimate plurality of selves. in fact, this is one of the very few places in the entire gItA where shrI rAmAnuja has written an extensive bhAShyam to refute advaita. this will be taken up after going through BP's and MS's bhAShyam-s.)
by stating that all of us eternally exist, kR^iShNa refers to the existence of the same self in the past, present and future. here, the use of plural (like ime janAdhipAH, vayam etc.) is only for the bodies. it does not refer to a plurality of selves .
MS explains this shloka by taking help from nyAya darshana. from the first half of the shloka which asserts the existence of everyone in the past, it is clear that the self is not a pratiyogi of a previous non-existence . and from the second part of the shloka which states that everyone will continue to exist in the future, the fact that the self is not a pratiyogi of non-existence caused by destruction  is shown. together, this means that the self is neither produced nor can be destroyed. it is eternal.
since all known objects (including the body and the mind) have either prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam or dhvaMsa pratiyogitvam or both of these, it can be concluded that none of these is the self. in particular, neither the body nor the mind is the self.
if something is not eternal, it is not the self. but we should not hastily conclude that anything which is eternal is the self. for instance, time, by it's very nature, is eternal. but time is not the self. (time is eternal since there can be no time when time originated or a time when time will end. to put it in other words, the notions of 'origination' and 'destruction' presuppose time and hence, cannot be used for time itself.)
shrI rAmAnuja's refutation of advaita based on this shloka will be taken up next.
a note on this and similar shloka-s:
though it has been shown that the self is eternal, it must be kept in mind that this statement is made only to show the eternal nature of the self WITH RESPECT TO objects of the world. strictly speaking, time itself is a notion which arises due to avidyA and hence, we cannot use time to characterize the self. the eternality of the self should be understood only in a relative sense. the self, by itself, since it transcends time, is neither eternal nor non-eternal. a similar argument can be given to show the relative nature of other statements like 'the self exists','the self alone exists', 'the self is one only, without a second','the self is all pervasive', 'the self is the witness of all' and so on. saying that the self is of such and such a nature is only as sensible as saying that a blind man sees everything black. this statement can made by one who knows what colour is. but if a person is blind from his birth, then, there is neither seeing nor a concept of colour
for him and the statement doesn't make any sense from his point of view. similarly, when the mind dies, there is neither time nor space nor subject nor object. all these statements are only for human beings. (it is not necessary to say 'ignorant' human beings since it is only through ignorance that we think that we are human beings.) to put it in other words, as long as the mind is perceived to be real, so long, these statements make sense.
footnotes and references
 'dehabhedAnuvR^ityA bahuvachanaM nAtmabhedAbhiprAyeNa.' (S.B.2.12)
 an entity is called a pratiyogi of previous non-existence (prAgabhAva) if is produced at some point of time and thus, was non-existent before it's production. such an entity is said to have prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam. for instance, this e-mail did not exist before it was composed. so, it is a pratiyogi of it's previous abhAva. if an entity is said to have prAgabhAva apratiyogitvam, or equivalently, if it does not have prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam, it means that the entity was never produced.
 an entity is called a pratiyogi of non-existence caused by destruction (dhvaMsa) if at some point of time, it is destroyed and thus, is non-existent after destruction. such an entity is said to have dhvaMsa pratiyogitvam. thus, if an entity does not have dhvaMsa pratiyogitvam, it cannot be destroyed.
Amuthan Arunkumar R,
Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.
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