[Advaita-l] The meaning of the Bhashyam expressions - 'dehavAniva lakshyate', etc.

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jul 28 19:31:38 CDT 2010

On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 4:05 AM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

> ShrIgurubhyo namaH
> In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Bhashyam, the Acharya makes a comment:
> '....dehavAniva lakshyate... [(The Jnani) appears to be one with a body].
> In the sequel is presented the method of understanding the meaning of this
> Bhashyam expression.
> [Although I have myself seen this quotation, i am unable to trace its
> reference. ]


The above quotation is traced to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mantra 4.4.6
occurs the portion: 'na tasya prANA utkrAmanti, brahmaiva san brahmApyeti'.
The Bhashyam sentence under our consideration is: //kintu vidvAn saH ihaiva
brahma, yadyapi dehavAniva lakShyate sa brahmaiva san brahmaapyeti. //

The portion deals with the Jnani's death. In the case of the ajnani death
certainly result in his taking another body. For this, the method is that
organs, such as that of speech, depart from the body and proceed to take
body. But in the case of the Jnani, the organs do not depart at all. Since
Jnani has nothing in him that can cause another embodiment, he has no
re-birth. So, the Upanishad says he is Brahman in this very life. He is with
a body only apparently. That is, he is seen to be as though  identified with
the body.  He is Brahman in this life itself, not after
the body falls. A Jnani, after his death, has no change of condition -
something different from what he was in this life, brahmaiva san, but he is
only not connected with another body. This is what is meant by his becoming
'merged in Brahman' (brahmaapyeti).

The Upanishad or Shankaracharya do not deny that there is a body connected
the Jnani. That is the reason why they talk about the death of the Jnani and
compare it with the death of ajnani-s. The comparison lies in: the prANa-s
departing from the body of the ajnani upon death and these not departing
the body of the jnani upon death. Thus comments Shankaracharya: 'yadyapi sa
vidvAn dehavAniva lakshyate sa brahmaiva san brahmaapyeti.' Since one's idea
Brahman is that which is all-pervading and not confined to a body, one would
be able to appreciate that the Jnani in a body is Brahman. But the Upanishad
says he is 'brahman indeed (even now)'. In order to clear this apparent
dichotomy Shankaracharya comments that 'even though the jnani seems to have
body, he is Brahman'. Shankaracharya does not even imply that 'ajnani-s
superimpose a body on the Jnani'. If that were his implication, it would
contradict the scripture and His own statements elsewhere (BSB 4.1.15, for
instance) and even in this very bhashya in the earlier and subsequent
where the Upanishad talks about the death of the Jnani.

One can read the discussion on this in the English translation of the
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad by Swami Madhavananda on pages 500 and 501.

It would be interesting to find a treatment of a similar situation in the
Bhagavadgita Chapter 18. Here, verses 11 and 12 deal with the comparison of
death of the ajnani-s and the jnani. While the ajnani, upon death, is bound
take a high, low or middling birth, the Jnani, upon death, takes none. It is
significant that the word 'dehabhRt' (one with a body) is commented upon by
Acharya here too as: 'dehAtmAbhimAnavAn dehabhRt uchyate' - the one with
body-identification is called a dehabhRt. This person is contrasted with the
'sannyaasin' who is a jnani.

The general thinking that 'a body is self-identified by someone' is the
underlying theme in both the Br.Up. and the above Gita verses, contrasting
a one with someone without such an identification with the body.

> [A similar usage is made by the Acharya in the commentary to the Gita
> verse: 4.21 -
> niraasheeryatachittaatmaa tyaktasarvaparigrahaH
> shAreeram kevalam karma kurvan na aapnoti kilbiSham
> Here, Bhagavan says that the Jnani having given up all wants and without
> any longings and of controlled mind lives doing only that minimum which is
> required to maintain his body.  By doing just this much he earns no evil
> karma (binding karma).  Shankaracharya takes up a lengthy discussion to
> decide on the meaning of the  word 'shAreeram' (related to the body) and
> concludes that this word only means:  the Jnani works just as much is
> necessary to the upkeep of the body.  Thus, confirming the scriptural
> position that the Jnani has a body to maintain which he does just so much of
> action as is necessary.  However, he himself is not attached to even this
> work and it is only the others think that he has kartRtvam. The relevant
> bhashyam passage for our purpose here is:
> //shareera-sthiti-maatra-prayojanam 'kevala'shabdaprayogaat 'aham karomi'
> ityabhimaanavarjitaH shareeraadicheShTaamaatram lokadRShTyaa kurvan na
> apnoti kilbiSham// The meaning of this is covered in the above paragraph.
> Here the signifcant aspects to be noticed are:
>    1. The Jnani has a body
>    2. He works for the upkeep of this body
>    3. This work expresses itself in the body, etc. (shreeraadi) doing one
>    or the other activity - chEShTaa
>    4. He has no identification with this action in the form of 'I am the
>    doer'
>    5. However, the others seeing his body, etc. engaged in such action
>    think that 'he is doing these actions'.
>    6. This by no means amounts to saying: 'the ajnanis superimpose a body,
>    etc. for the jnani.'  On the other hand, Shankaracharya clarifies 'the
>    others only superimpose the doership, kartRtva, on the Jnani.  The Jnani
>    himself is free of even this kartRtva.'
>    7. This is a proof of Scripture and Shankara teaching that the Jnani
>    has no identification, abhimaana with either the body or the doership.
> The above is the only method of correctly understanding the Bhashyam
> expression.  If it is understood in any other manner, it will contradict the
> teaching of the Scripture and Shankaracharya.  How?  Shankaracharya Himself,
> for instance, in the BSB 4.1.15 challenges those who contest the Jnani
> continuing in a body  (as taught by the Bhagavadgita 5.13 where the Lord
> teaches that the Jnani lives in the body for the rest of the period of his
> destined life), even while having the Realization of Brahman:
> //‘’The knowledge of the Self being essentially non-active destroys all
> works by sublating wrong knowledge; but wrong knowledge – comparable to the
> appearance of a double moon – lasts for some time even after it has been
> sublated, owing to the impression it has made.  Moreover, it is not a
> matter for dispute at all whether the body of the Knower of Brahman
> continues to exist for sometime or not. For how can one contest the fact of
> another possessing the knowledge of Brahman – vouched for by his heart’s
> conviction – and at the same time continuing with the body? This alone has
> been elaborated in the Shruti and Smriti in the form of teaching of the
> Sthitaprajna (Man of steady Knowledge).//

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