SankarAcArya's bhagavad gItA bhAshya: 2. 14-15.

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Fri Nov 13 13:57:07 CST 1998

In verses 2. 12-13, we saw that death is treated similarly with the
attainment of youth and old age. Through all these changes, the Atman is
seen to be changeless and eternal. Further development of this theme is
found in the next two verses.



Translation -

Although one understands that the Atman is eternal, and therefore, no
longer thinks that the Atman is destroyed, it is still seen in the world
that heat and cold, happiness and sorrow lead to delusion. Separation from
happiness leads to moha (delusion), while association with sorrow leads to
Soka (grief). Anticipating that Arjuna may entertain such a doubt, the
Lord says,

Verse -

mAtrAsparSAstu kaunteya SItoshNa-sukhaduHkha-dAH |
AgamApAyino 'nityAs tAMs titikshasva bhArata || 2. 14 ||

mAtrAsparSAH - in this context, sense organs and contact with the objects
          of these organs
tu - particle, added for emphasis, anticipating a question
kaunteya, bhArata - son of Kunti, descendent of bharata, both words refer
          to Arjuna here.
SIta - cold
ushNa - heat
sukha - joy, happiness
duHkha - sorrow
SIta...dAH - things that give rise to cold etc.
AgamApAyinaH - things that come and go
anityAH - temporary, ephemeral
tAn - them
titikshasva - endure, pay no heed.

The contact of sense organs with their objects gives rise to cold and
heat, happiness and sorrow, O son of Kunti. These come and go, they are
temporary. Endure them.

Commentary -

mAtrAsparSAH - mAtrAH refers to those by which objects, beginning with
sound, are measured, i.e. the ear and other sense organs. The
contacts/touches (sparSa) of these organs with their objects yield
(experiences such as) cold and heat, joy and sorrow. Or else - those that
touch (make contact) are sparSAH, i.e. objects such as sound, etc. The
sense organs and their objects give rise to cold, heat, joy, sorrow. [1]

Cold is sometimes pleasant, at other times painful. Similarly, heat also
has no necessary svarUpa (own-nature, as pleasant or unpleasant). Joy and
sorrow, on the other hand, have their own natures, and are therefore
mentioned separately from cold and heat. As these senses, their objects
etc. are things that come and go, they are non-eternal. Therefore, endure
them, cold, heat and so on. The meaning is, do not feel either elated or
dismayed by these things.

Notes -

[1]. SankarAcArya offers two alternative meanings for the term
mAtrAsparSAH. The first explanation views it as a compound (samAsa), split
as mAtrANAM sparSAH, which is a tatpurusha samAsa. Here, that which yields
these experiences of cold etc. is the contact *of* sense organs with
their objects. In the second explanation, mAtrAsparSAH is split as a
simple compund, mAtrAS ca sparSAS ca, which is a dvandva samAsa. Here,
sense organs *and* their objects are said to give rise to cold etc. This
may seem like a simple trivial point of grammar, but the contact of sense
organs with their objects is an issue that has generated widely different
views in Indian philosophy. By offering two grammatical explanations,
SankarAcArya steps aside from the details of this issue, and concentrates
on the import of the verse, namely that one should not be neutral to cold
and heat, pleasure and pain. In this context, note verse 2. 38 of the
gItA, which reads, "sukhaduHkhe same kRtvA lAbhAlAbhau jayAjayau" etc.

It should be remembered that "cold and heat" represent the entire gamut of
sensory experience, including sound, touch, sight, taste and smell,
obtained by the five sense organs, ear, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. The
advice tendered in this verse is not limited to the objects of touch,
which yield cold and heat. It is intended to cover the other sense organs
and their objects also. Also see the third prose chapter of
upadeSasAhasrI, where this theme is developed in SankarAcArya's teaching
of parisaMkhyAna.

Translation -

(One may ask) so what, once cold and heat are endured? Listen -

Verse -

yaM hi na vyathayanty ete purushaM purushaRshabha |
samaduHkhasukhaM dhIraM so 'mRtatvAya kalpate || 2. 15 ||

yaM purushaM - The man whom
hi - only, indeed
na vyathayanti - do not agitate/disturb
ete - these (cold etc. as in the previous verse)
purushaRshabha - bull among men, a term of praise for Arjuna
samaduHkhasukham - (him who is) the same in sorrow and happiness
dhIraM - the intelligent/wise man
saH - he
amRtatvAya - for immortality
kalpate - becomes fit, is prepared.

The man whom these do not disturb, who is neutral to happiness and sorrow,
he is indeed wise and fit for immortality.

Commentary -

The man -
        who is not affected by sorrow and happiness,
        who is neither elated nor dismayed by happiness and sorrow,
        who is wise,
        whom cold, heat and the rest do not disturb, as said earlier,
            because of the vision of the eternal Self,
he is tolerant of all pairs of opposites (dvandva), and is disciplined in
his vision of himself as the eternal Self. He, indeed, is prepared (fit)
for the state of immortality, the state of liberation.

Therefore, one should endure experiences such as cold and heat, without
getting deluded or feeling sorrowful.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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