[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 5 (Concluded)

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 3 09:09:14 CDT 2010

Dear Sir,

In Mahabharata Janmejaya requests Vaishampayana to tell him about his ancestors. The latter said that even the hundred putras of Dhritarashtra had studied all the shastras. So Arjuna was acquainted with all shastriya knowledge and this is in consonance with Arjuna's statement at the end of the Bhagavad Gita that he got his memory back. But one point remains that though he was learned he was somewhat confused till the Lord clarified things. Thus Arjuna may not be a jnani in the sense Adi sankaracharya says but he was a learned person. Thus we have to make only a qualified statement and not a sweeping statement that Arjuna was not a jnani.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Thu, 7/1/10, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
Subject: [Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 5 (Concluded)
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Thursday, July 1, 2010, 6:15 PM

What is the sadhana?  In 5.12, Bhagavan says, “Giving up the fruits of works
the Yogin attains disciplined peace.” The Bhashya for this verse reads: The
yogi with the conviction, “Actions are for God, not for my gain” attains
peace (mokshaakhyam shaantim) called liberation. It is to be understood that
he attains this through the stages of purification of the mind, acquisition
of knowledge, renunciation of all actions, and steadfastness in Knowledge”.
In 5.6 Bhagavan says, “Perfected in Yoga, in course of time, one wins it as
one’s own self.”

In the verse under discussion, Arjuna confirms to the Lord that He has not
only understood the doctrine clearly but also resolved to perform Karma
Yoga. Is this situation not equivalent to the person who has boarded the
flight bound for New York with valid documents? Therefore, *Bhagavatpada
sees Arjuna as a jnani-in-the-making though not already one and quotes
passages related to the final fruit of liberation in line with other
scriptural texts.* Also, as we saw Bhagavatpada has simply followed Bhagavan
in extolling a karma yogin.

Now there is the final question, “Arjuna was not an ordinary warrior; He was
a man of innumerable virtues. He is said to be the incarnation of Rishi
Nara. He could even fight with and propitiate Lord shiva and receive from
Him the celestial astra. His chariot was driven by none other than Bhagavan.
He had the darshan of Bhagavan’s Viswarupa which according to Bhagavan
Himself none had seen before and none else would behold later. Bhagavan has
often expressed that Arjuna was very dear to Him. On top of all, He received
teaching about the Tattva directly from Bhagavan Himself. When Bhagavan’s
mere darshan should have liberated Arjuna, why, in spite of all these that
Arjuna could not go beyond Paroksha Jnana?

This is perhaps what makes Advaita more interesting than any other
philosophy; No amount of Punya or bhagavat darsana can remove one’s
ignorance unless one gets Jnana, which alone can remove one’s ignorance;
Even Bhagavan liberates a bhakta only by buddhiyoga vide: “*dadaami* *
buddhiyogam* *tam* *yena* *mamupayaanti* te - I grant that buddhiyoga by
which they reach Me”. Bhagavatpada says in his commentary to verse 4.42:
“Knowledge of the Self is the sword, and doubt has the Self for its object
(ajnana vishaya is Brahman). None may slay another’s doubt; he who doubts
about the self is the slayer thereof.” So Arjuna had to get the liberating
Jnana in order to escape this samsara, for there is no other alternative to
Jnana for one to get liberated from samsara.

In that case, is there no benefit for Arjuna from the darsana of and upadesa
from Bhagavan Himself? There has been tremendous utility for him from these.
Bhagavan had lucidly explained the Tattva to Him and made him understand it
clearly. Such a conviction of the Supreme Tattva would not have been
possible even for the best of the sadhakas in such a short time and
certainly in a war-field.  The Lord had presented moksha in a silver platter
to Arjuna. Arjuna had to simply fight the war what he himself had
undertaken, of course, now, with a spirit of total dedication and surrender
to the Lord. That is all. It might be contended that any other activity
might be easy to dedicate but certainly not the one like fighting a major
war. This would have been a valid concern had the Lord not shown Arjuna His
viswarupa in which the latter himself saw all his enemies, the formidable
kauravas, entering into the blazing, fearsome mouth of Bhagavan. The Lord
Himself verbalised this: “Already your foes have been slain by Me, O skilful
bow-man. Be but an occasion for the end of your foes”.    It is roughly
equivalent to a situation wherein a 100-meters-sprinter is assured of his
gold medal at the Olympics even before he participates in the event and only
told, “Don’t worry about competition; Just run and you will succeed by the
Lord’s grace.  But dedicate the result to Him. Surrender to Him.” I don’t
think the sprinter would be finding the instruction difficult to implement.
Arjuna too was in such a comfortable situation; he had been taught
everything by Bhagavan; he had to simply wage the war and surrender
everything to him; He had already become the lord’s devotee. If only Arjuna
decided to set his mind on Bhagavan he would achieve even samadhi on Him
quickly as he is known for his wonderful mind-control. On top of everything,
Arjuna had been openly promised by the Lord, “You will surely attain Me.
Truly do I promise thus, for you are dear to Me.”(18.65)  And then, “Take
refuge in Me alone; I shall liberate you from all sins; grive not.” (18.66)
Therefore, no doubt, Arjuna was a special customer to the Lord. However, he
too had to put in some effort which I am sure he would not mind doing!!

Conclusion: The scenario prior to sloka 18.73 has been that Arjuna himself
does not claim that He had got liberated; Bhagavan does not even give a hint
to Arjuna that he has already become enlightened either by his own efforts
or by the Lord's blessings; on the contrary Bhagavan continues to  motivate
Arjuna to do Karma Yoga and thereby get liberated; Bhagavatpada has been
categorically spelling out that Arjuna's path to perfection is only karma
Yoga. The final question of Bhagavan has nothing to do with the liberation
of Arjuna - the words of the verse as well as Bhagavtpada's bhashyam point
out this clearly. Such being the case, it is unreasonable to hold that
Arjuna was an aparoksha Jnani, all of a sudden, while uttering sloka 18.73.
*Thus the bhashyam of verse 18.73 can only be understood as proving the
point that Bhagavan's teaching about the Self has removed the ignorance-born
delusion of Arjuna (even though Arjuna's was only mediate knowledge about
the Self but bereft of doubts) and that the view of Upanshads too is similar
- that 'Knowledge of the Self removes ignorance and its effects'.* It is
only for this purpose that Bhagavatpada quoted three beautiful passages,
highly appropriate to the context and Arjuna's response.


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