[Advaita-l] Was Arjuna a aparoksha jnani?

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 4 07:47:11 CDT 2010

Arjuna was not lying when he said that he regained his memory.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Sat, 7/3/10, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
Subject: [Advaita-l] Was Arjuna a aparoksha jnani?
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Saturday, July 3, 2010, 12:55 PM

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.

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

·     *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.

·     *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.

·     *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

·         *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.
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