[Advaita-l] Was Arjuna a aparoksha jnani?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Jul 4 06:43:20 CDT 2010

Anugita References:

1. http://www.astrojyoti.com/anugita.htm

Here are the opening verses:


On Sun, Jul 4, 2010 at 1:25 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> wrote:

> Namaskarams. After raising the question, I understood that the question
> itself is foolish and hence the answer will be incorrect whether one says
> Arjuna achieved aparoksha jnana or otherwise. Arjuna is an incarnation of
> Lord Hari as confirmed by Bhagavatham and Mahabharatha verses below:
> tasyaivam yunjatas  cittam tapah svadhyaya samyamaih  anugrahayavirasin
> nara-narayano *hari: *(12.8.36). In Vanaparvan (12. 46, 47), Krishna says
> to
> Arjuna,"O invincible one, you are Nara and I am Hari Narayana, and we, the
> sages Nara-Narayana, have come to this world at proper time". In the same
> Parva, chapter 30 (verse 1); Lord Siva says to Arjuna "In former birth you
> were Nara and with Narayana as your companion, performed austerities for
> thousands of years at Badari". In fact, Bhagavad Gita itself gives clue to
> the fact that Krishna and Arjuna are divine at the very beginning -
> *divyau*sankhau pradadhmatuh (1.14).
> The question is incorrect because it is not proper to ask if the Lord
> (in his avatara as Arjuna) is a jnani, became one or what level he
> achieves etc. The Lord is eternally endowed with jnana shakti bala though
> in
> his pastimes his will act as if he is ignorant. Arjuna asking questions to
> Krishna is no different from Lord Rama asking Viswamitra or Lord Krishna
> asking Sandipani as if they are mere students. Arjuna is asking questions
> not to dispel his own ignorance but to dispel the ignorance of others.  In
> his commentary to aparam bhavato janma (4.4), Sankaracharya says that
> Arjuna
> was asking questions to destroy the doubts of fools regarding Lord Vasudeva
> Isvaratvam and Sarvajnatvam. One can argue that Arjuna only knew this much
> and there are places where Lord Krishna as also Sankaracharya call Arjuna
> as
> devoid of knowledge. The Lord calls Arjuna as forgetful (na tvam vetta
> parantapa 4.5) and Sankaracharya says Lord opines that Arjuna is a fool
> (atho mudo'si ithyabhipraya: 2.11). Arjuna forgetting his past incarnation
> is like Lord Rama forgetting he is Vishnu but is not an indication of
> ignorance on His part. Even when Arjuna is called a fool by Sankaracharya
> in
> his commentary verse 2.11, the acharya does not deny atma jnana on the part
> of Arjuna (bhashase prajna vadam). He only says that Arjuna's actions are
> contradictory to his atma jnana. The question will arise that it is because
> Arjuna acted like a fool due to ignorance, he was called a fool. The reason
> that the Lord says criticizes his action is explained by Sankaracharya in
> his commentary to 2.10 - "Hence, wishing to impart that (knowledge of the
> Self) *for favouring the whole world*, Lord Vasudeva, making Arjuna the
> medium, said, 'You grieve for those who are not to be grieved for,' etc."
> In
> any case, attributing ignorance to Hari (in his avatara as Arjuna) cannot
> be
> proper vision.

My general response to the above data is this:  The siddhAnta of the Vedanta
is:  all of us jivas are none other than Brahman.  We have no samsara in
truth.  Yet, this siddhAnta does not obviate the need for us to go thru the
disciplines of sadhana, do shravana, manana and nididhyasana and gain the
aparoksha jnanam and get liberated.  It is only when this is achieved one
will realize that one has been indeed Brahman and one has never been a

So, even if it is agreed that Arjuna was in truth an avatara or amsha or a
divine purusha or whatever, that he was deluded and was miserable in the
Mahabhrata context is not a fact that could be set aside.  The cause of this
the Vedanta identifies as svarUpa ajnAna.  The remedy is sadhana culminating
in svrUpa aparoksha jnAna.  It is only because of this perception that the
Bhagavadgita is admitted as a prasthAna in the prasthAna traya.  It is a
moksha shAstra.

> I thank you for the response and while I could agree with some of the
> points I could not agree with the motive or core arguments for the
> following
> reasons:
> ·     *Motive:* The author set out with the motive to prove that Arjuna is
> not a aparoksha jnana. In sincere pursuit of truth, the conclusion should
> come out of facts. Quoting the author below: "In one of the mails sent by
> you a fortnight ago on the subject of Arjuna’s  enlightenment, you had
> wanted  me to think about and jot down the points favoring the view that
> Arjuna had not become an aparoksha-jnani when he uttered verse 73 of
> Chapter
> 18 of the Gita. I pondered over the issue and have put together whatever
> ideas that came to my mind." I would prefer ideas that are based on
> sastras.

Regarding the motive:  I had made it amply clear in the beginning that the
question of Arjuna's aparoksha jnana became a subject of vichara due to
these facts:

In the Mahabharata, it is recorded that much after the war, Arjuna asked of
the Lord to give him the teaching that the Lord had given in the form of
Bhagavadgita, before the war.  Here are the references to that:

Anugita References:

1. http://www.astrojyoti.com/anugita.htm

Here are the opening verses:


>From the above it would be clear beyond doubt that Arjuna had not become
enlightened and thereby become liberated from samsara. The Lord even
chastises Arjuna for having allowed the teaching to slip away.

Also, I had mentioned that the Mahabharata mentions, as told to me by
someone, that Arjuna did become liberated much later, in a different birth
that he took after his Arjuna-birth and one more birth later.  So, only in
the second birth after the Arjuna-birth did Arjuna finally became
liberated.  I have no references to this, though.

These were the facts that formed the genesis of the need for initiating a
study of the question of Arjuna's enlightenment and liberation, in the
context of the Bhagavadgita.  So, based on this input, the author has
undertaken the study and concluded that it cannot be determined from the
Bhagavadgita and the Acharya's bhashyam that Arjuna became enlightened and
got liberated based on the verse 18.73.

> ·     *Author's argument #1: No statement that Arjuna liberated himself or
> Lord liberated him: *The argument by the author is that there is no
> statement that says Arjuna liberated himself, which anyway is impossible
> for
> him because he is a karma yogin. And there is no statement that the Lord
> liberated him. Answer: Arjuna plays the part of student to require all
> types
> of knowledge and it is incorrect to brand him as karma yogi. But anyway
> treating Arjuna as a karma yogi, here is the direct evidence from the lotus
> mouth of the lord that Arjuna saw, realized and entered Vasudeva in reality
> through his ananya bhakti. His feat was not possible through Vedas, Tapas
> such as Candrayana, Charity or Yajna or Puja but only through ananya
> bhakti.
> naham vedair na tapasa na danena na cejyaya
> sakya evam-vidho drastum drstavan asi mam yatha (11.53)
> bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya aham evam-vidho 'rjuna
> *jnatum* *drastum ca tattvena* *pravestum* ca parantapa (11.54)
> Universal form is not some nice IMAX movie that Arjuna realized directly.

The above verses do not prove that Arjuna, after witnessing the VishvarUpa,
did 'enter' the Lord and thereby got liberated.  Bhagavan only says that
through 'ananya bhakti' what all benefits come:

   1. That Bhagavan is the one who is available to us as the Vishva.  In
   other words, thru ananya bhakti one will come to realize that the Vishva
   that is experienced is none other than Bhagavan.
   2. One will, owing to ananya bhakti, succeed in knowing Bhagavan by the
   medium of the shAstra, scripture - paroksha jnanam (the word 'jnanam' of the
   Bh.Gita 7th chapter)
   3. This will result in, owing to the basic ananya bhakti, one getting the
   aparoksha jnanam, sAkshAtkara.  (the word 'vijnaanam' of the Bh.Gita 7th
   4. This sAkshAtkARa will result in Moksha called 'pravesha into the Lord'
   in this verse:11.54. This is also the result of ananya bhakti alone.

All this is very neatly clarified beyond any doubt in the Acharya's bhashya
for 11.54.  If one carefully reads this one can get the above four points.
Arjuna has secured the VishvarUpa darshanam.  He has secured also the
paroksha jnanam since the Lord Himself gave the Shastra jnanam.  He is yet
to get the aparoksha sAkShAtkAra and get liberated 'enter'.  These are not
yet accomplished by him, as borne out by the analysis in the study.

> ·     *Author's argument #2: It is only paroksha jnana in 11.1 and 18.73:
> *Lord
> Vasudeva is not dull that he will ask a question for which Arjuna has on
> his
> own accord explained his position earlier.
>                   mad-anugrahaya paramam guhyam adhyatma-samjnitam
>                   yat tvayoktam vacas tena moho 'yam vigato mama

>From the bhashyam we come to know that by the Lord's teaching so far, Arjuna
has secured the knowledge that distinctly states the atma as different from
the anAtma.  Prior to hearing this he did not have this jnanam.  Now he has
secured it.  This is paroksha jnanam.  This is undoubtedly necessary to
further culminate in aparoksha jnAnam.   An accomplished scholar in the
Vedanta Shastra too would be able to give a fine account of the viveka, even
though he might not be an aparoksha jnani.  There will be no mistake in the
delineation, no samshaya will be there.  Yet by this much one cannot be
deemed to be an aparoksha jnani.

> ·         *Author’s argument #3: Sankaracharya uses the context to
> establish
> aparoksha jnana conclusion: *Sankaracharya would have clarified that and
> definitely not say something contrary to truth – “*na* *me* kartavyam asit
> ithyabhipraya:” specifically with respect to Arjuna.

Since it is established beyond doubt that Arjuna has the yuddha kartavya, as
a karma yogin, in the verses upto the one preceding 18.73,  Bhagavatpada is
taking this concluding verse, shAstrArtha samaapti, as one that gives out
the phalam of the shAstrArtham.  This phalam, as is seen in all shAstras
like the Kathopanishad or Chandogya 6th chapter, is in stating that the
aspirant in question attained the liberating knowledge.

However, in the Gita context, the phalam is that the aspirant Arjuna got the
knowledge that liberated him from the ignorance he had about what aught to
be done and not to be done, what is Atma and what is AnAtma, what is bandha
and what constitutes moksha and what indeed is the sadhana, step by step,
involving karma yoga, chitta shuddhi, dhyana yoga, chitta ekAgrataa, and
nididhyAsanam and sAkShAtkAra.  This is the phalam as far as Arjuna is
personally concerned.  The  very  verse is  so nicely composed by Veda
Vyasa, that  it can form a fitting culmination to the ShAstra upadesha:
aparoksha jnAnam (as shown in Katha, Chandogya).  So, applied to Arjuna it
is paroksha jnana, of a very supreme kind.  Applied to any other sadhaka who
practices all that has been taught in the Gita and attains to aparoksha
jnanam, it is aparoksha sAkshAtkAra.  Bhagavatpada's commentary is in such a
way as to apply to both an aparoksha jnani X and the case of Arjuna.  In the
case of Arjuna, as pointed out by the author of the analysis, the 'na me
kartavyamasti' is to mean:  'Now, having known everything about the
spiritual goal, its sadhana and phalam, I have nothing else to do other than
obeying Your command:  of engaging in the war as a karma yogi.  That is the
only sadhana for me now and nothing else.'  For any other sadhaka who has
got the aparoksha jnanam, the 'na me kartavyamasti'  is to be taken in the

It should be recognized that when Bhagavatpada is writing a commentary, He
would have taken the local AS WELL AS the global picture.  His knowledge of
the Mahabharata is easily estimable from His quoting from it in the Gita
bhashya itself and also in other bhashyas.  So, it is well within this
recognition that Bhagavatpada knew the global picture pertaining to Arjuna's
asking for the teaching to be given out again (Anu Gita) and his final
liberation in a later birth.

Best regards,

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