[Advaita-l] Question on Gita 8.3, 13.13
Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water)
vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Mon Apr 7 16:58:46 CDT 2008
Shrinivas, I am finally getting around to the questions you raised a
month ago on this list.
>Have a question on interpreting the following two verses from Gita
>on Sanskrit language rules:
>Gita 13.13 (second line): anAdimatparam brahma na sat tat na asat
>Gita 8.3 (line one) akSaram brahma paramam svabhAvo adhyAtama ucyate
>Q1: In 13.13, is it obvious that param qualifies brahma.
>Q2: In 8.3, what does paramam qualify akSara, or brahma. i.e. should we
>"param akSara is brahma", or "akSara is param brahma" ?
Let us view these verses purely from a grammatical and textual
perspective, keeping aside varying philosophical interpretations. We
still need to decide what is one's view of language and textual
structure. In my opinion, and I think most traditional commentators
would concur (as would many modern academicians), while we can analyze
the text down to individual words, we need to keep in mind the context,
the subtext and the syntax. In traditional analysis, we should look for
pada-sangati (flow from one word/phrase to another) and vishaya-sangati
(consistency with respect to subject matter).
In verse 13.13, the language would allow one to split anAdimatparaM
brahma as anAdi + matparaM + brahma or as anAdimat + paraM + brahma. If
we look at the few following verses, beginning with jneyaM yat tat
pravakshyAmi, it is clear that brahman is here described as the jneya,
jyotishAM jyoti, sUkshma etc. It would therefore be reasonable to take
param as qualifying brahma and parsing the compound as anAdimat + paraM
In verse 8.3, if we again take the context into account, we see that
chapter 7 has ended with a mention of adhyAtma, adhibhUta, adhiyajna and
adhidaiva, leading to a question from Arjuna at the beginning of chapter
8, asking for explanations of all these. In particular, the term akshara
in conjunction with brahma in verse 8.3 contrasts with ksharo bhAvaH in
verse 8.4, in conjunction with adhibhUta. This indicates that 8.3
intends that brahman is indestructible (akshara). Therefore, we should
take paramam as qualifying the term brahma. As Sankara bhagavatpAda
points out in the commentary, the praNava (aumkAra) which is also
usually called the akshara, is not meant here.
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