[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 2

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Jun 27 19:35:28 CDT 2010

Then Bhagavan goes on to summarise the best means of securing
Knowledge in  verse
(18.65) “Manmana Bhava madbhakto... - Set your mind on Me; be My devotee;
sacrifice unto Me; prostrtate before Me; you will surely attain Me. Truly do
I promise thus, for you are dear to Me.”. Lest any one should think that
this verse is not related to Karma Yoga  and wrongly assume that Arjuna’s
path is sankhya yoga, Bhagavatpada’s commentary is categorical: “*
karmayoganishthaayaah* *paramarahasyam* *isvarahsaraNtaam* *upasamhrutya’*,
having concluded the supreme secret of the establishment (nishtha) in Karma
Yoga”.*In view of all this, it is crystal clear that Bhagavan considered
Arjuna only as a sadhaka and imparted sadhana to him; there is no question
of his deeming him as a siddha.*

It is clear that Bhagavan and consequently, Bhagavatpada do not seem to
believe that Arjuna is a Jnani.  Having observed that is no evidence in the
Gita / bhashya about Arjuna’s enlightenment, we now turn to the words of the
Bhashya for our further analysis.

Arjuna says that his delusion has vanished and his doubts gone on hearing
the teaching of Bhagavan. What is that delusion or what are the doubts that
have gone? The answer is simple. Obviously, the reference should be to the
delusion or doubts he had had prior to hearing the teaching. Bhagavan’s
query (as elucidated by Bhagavtpada) in 18.72 testifies to this: “Has your
native non-discrimination, born of nescience, perished? *It was for this
that you took the trouble to listen to Me and I to impart this Sastra.*”  The
verses of Chapter 1 and the first eight verses of Chapter 2 of the Gita
depict in detail the despondency and delusion of Arjuna. Bhagavatpada
succinctly summarises this: ‘In regard to the kingdom, teachers,
descendents, allies, friends, kinsmen and relatives, both remote and
intimate, Arjuna displayed his grief and delusion, both born of the fear of
a breakdown of his affection. This affection itself was a product of the
illusory cognitions such as, “I belong to them, they are mine”, etc. *It was
because his discrimination and practical knowledge were undermined by grief
and delusion that* *Arjuna refrained from fighting*, though he had
voluntarily undertaken to fight his opponents as the duty of the
Kshatriya...Therefore, the seeds of samsara are grief and delusion (shoka &
moha) and these can be exhausted only by the knowledge of the Self...”

Therefore Bhagavan first taught him Atmopadesa. Bhagavatpada explains this
in 2.11, “Convinced that the redemption of Arjuna whose mind was confused in
regard to the law of righteousness, swayed by nescience and sunk in a vast
sea of sorrow, is impossible except through the knowledge of the Self, Lord
Krishna, seeking to save him, introduces to him the theme of Self
knowledge.” Bhagavatpada says: (2.19) The scripture Gita is intended for
eradicating sorrow, delusion etc., which are the causes of the cycle of
births and deaths.” Therefore it is meet that after Bhagavan imparted the
wisdom of Atman to Arjuna, his delusion vanished.

There is an interesting parallel to verse 18.73 in verse 11.1 wherein Arjuna
says, “By the words You have spoken, supreme, occult and spiritual, in order
to bless me, this delusion of mine has gone.” Bhagavatpada writes, “In order
to bless me, for conferring a blessing on me, You gave utterance to what is
Supreme or unexcelled, the occult, mysterious and the spiritual  pertaining
to the distinction between the Self and the non-Self
(atma-anatma-viveka-vishayam). By that utterence, this delusion of mine has
gone (moho vigatah)  my perplexity has vanished (mama avivekabuddhih
apagataa). This is the idea.”

Little wonder that Bhagavatpada’s commentary for verse 11.1 conveys the same
idea as that for sloka 18.73 as far as the vanishing of Arjuna’s delusion is

Now comes another question. If the dispelling of Arjuna’s delusion does not
amount to the termination of his mulavidya, how do we account for
Bhagavatpada’s citation of Chandogya, Mundaka and Isa Sruti passages that
relate to aparoksha Jnana and its result, eradication of transmigratory
existence with its shoka and moha ?

We have to appreciate that this is a very important verse for Bhagavatpada
in as much as this is the concluding statement in the Gita made by the
disciple in response to the query posed by the Divine Teacher. That is why,
taking full advantage of the words of this verse, Bhagavatpada successfully
establishes the Upanishadic siddhanta that the delusion caused by ignorance
arising from the non-discrimination between the Self and non-Self is
dispelled with the dawn of clear knowledge of the Self, citing the Sruti
passages under consideration as Pramana. In fact, this is what He declared
in the beginning, in His introduction itself. Well, here is one important
factor. The knowledge of the Self in question may be mediate, paroksha or
direct, aparoksha; that is not the issue as far as the ability of the
knowledge to destroy the delusion caused by atma-anatma-aviveka is
concerned. Of course, a person endowed only with paroksha-jnana needs to
stabilise it through a process before he becomes established in Knowledge or
becomes a jnananishthah, in order to completely terminate his avidya.

The following portion in square brackets could even be skipped:

[We will now turn our attention to Verse 4.42 of the Gita. You have told me
the view of HNS that we have to ‘resolve’ this verse before we finalise our
judgement about Arjuna’s enlightenment. (Or did HNS tell me this?)
Bhagavatpada expatiates upon the meaning of this verse as follows:
“Therefore, slay this most wicked doubt in the heart or intellect, born of
ignorance or lack of discrimination. Slay it with the sword of knowledge or
right perception (*samyagdarsana*). Destroying this doubt, practice Karma
Yoga, the means of right perception (*samyagdarsana*). Stand up to wage this
battle, O Bharata.” I have been going round in circles for almost a decade
now, unable to find out the significance of the appearance of the word ‘*
samyagdarsana’* twice in the bhashya-passage under discussion.

The word *samyagdarsana*, right perception, is normally understood as a
synonym for the liberating sakshatkara. Here is an instance form the Bhashya
of sloka 2.34, wherein Bhagavatpada writes, “The teachers, Jnanis, the
knowers of Brahman, thus won over through humility, will instruct or impart
the knowledge described above. Some among them alone are well established in
Truth as it is. Hence, the qualification, ‘*tattvadarsinah’*. Only the
knowledge imparted by those who have realised the Truth, *samyagdarsinah*,
is effective, not aught else.” Thus it can be understood that *samyagdarsana
* is related to aparoksha-jnana or sakshatkara.

(To be continued)

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