[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 3

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Jun 28 20:37:26 CDT 2010

That the word ‘*samyagadarsana’* occurring for the second time in the
commentary can only mean aparoksha jnana is not contentious. However, there
arises a doubt whether the term ‘*samyagdarsana’* occurring for the first
time should also be interpreted as aparoksha jnana. Unfortunately, such an
interpretation would result in the absurd conclusion that the Lord is
instructing Arjuna, who has already secured *samyagdarsana *or* *aparoksha
jnana, to once again work for *samyagdarsana* through the performance of
karma yoga. First of all there is nothing to perform for a Brahmavit. The
Lord Himself says this in the previous chapter, “*tasya* *karyam* *na* *
vidyate* - there is no duty to perform for him (a knower of Brahman)”. Such
being the case, why should the aparosksha Jnani engage in some activity,
that too as karma yoga, to get *samyagdarsana* once again? Nothing can be
more absurd than this. In view of this, the first *samyagdarsana* can not
relate to liberating, avidya-terminating knowledge.

If, however, one is keen on sticking to the view that both the occurrences
of *samyagdarsana* would only mean *aparoksha*-*sakshatkara*, there is a way
out. We can interpret the Bhashya to mean that Arjuna is advised to cut his
doubts born of delusion by the sword of *samyagdarsana* (aparoksha jnana)
and then resort to *karma*-*anushthana*, purely for the sake of *loka*-*
sangraha*. However, in that case, the words “*samyagdarsonopaayam* *
karmanushthanam* *aathsihtha*” should be interpreted to mean, “Engage in the
same *karmaanushthaana* (your duty of fighting etc., for the protection of
the good) which was earlier the means for your *samyagdarsana* (*aproksha*-*
jnana*). (*yat* *karmanushthanam* *samyagdarsanaaat* *praak* *upayarupena* *
asiit*, *tadeva* *karmaanushthanam* *idaaniim* *tu* *kevalam* *
lokasangraharupena* *tvayaa* *kartavyam* ). As it is obvious from the above,
this interpretation would demand Arjuna to first resort to *Sanhkya*-*yoga*,
then *Jnana*-*nishtha*, then removal of ignorance in totality (*
samyagdarsana*) and finally, *karmanushthana*, fighting the war for loka

Unfortunately, Bhagavan’s teaching of the Gita and all of Bhagavatpada’s
interpretations thereof would get contradicted if the above view is
accepted. This is undoubtedly clear from the introductory-bhashya for the
very next verse (5.1) which reads “In 4.42 Bhagavan teaches Yoga whose
characteristic is performance of works - ‘*Yogam* *aatthishtha’*. Again in
one of the important verses that teach Karma Yoga, (3.47 -
Karmanyevadhikarste...) Bhagavatpada interprets Bhagavan’s advice to Arjuna:
“You have right only to perform work and not to undertake the discipline of
knowledge”. Again for 5.11 where Bhagavan says, “With body, mind, intellect
and mere senses Yogins perform work without attachment, for the purification
of the self”,  Bhagavatpada categorically states the following as the
intention of Bhagavan: “*Tasmaat* *tatraiva* *tava* *adhikarah*- therefore
you are called upon to work only, do work”. Don’t worry, I am not going to
cite the hundreds of instances from the Gita and the bhashya to support the
view that Arjuna’s immediate path was Karma Yoga and not Sankhya yoga.

In view of the above, I feel that it is not appropriate to interpret the
first occurrence of *samyagdarsana* as aparoksha jnana;  I would rather
interpret it as mediate or paroksha knowledge only. Is it legitimate to use
samyagdarsana in the sense of paroksha jnana? Is there any precedence for
such a usage?  Not only the word *samyagdarsana*, we  are aware that even
words such as Jnana, Atmajnana, Jnani, Atmavit etc., are all freely used in
texts to relate either to paroksha-jnana/i or aparoksha jnana/i and the onus
seems to be on us to deduce the appropriate sense from the context. Here is
an instance in the Gita-bhashya where Bhagavatpada Himself has used the word
*samyagdarsana* in a sense different from the meaning conveyed in His
passage cited earlier. In His introduction to verse 2.60, He writes, “*
Samyagdarsana*-*lakshana*-*prajnasthairyam* *chikirshataam* *aadau* *
indriyaani* *svavase* *sthaapayitavyaani*. ..One who seeks stability of
wisdom (wisdom characterised by *samyagdarsana*) must first control the
senses.” In another instance, He says, “*Tasmaat* *samyagdarsanaatmikaayaah*
*prajnaayaah* *sthairyam* *kartavyam* *iti* *abhiprayah* -- The import is
that stability of wisdom whose essence is right knowledge must be secured.”
Here Bhagavatpada talks about the stability of samyagdarsana. Obviously, it
would be meaningless to ask an aparoksha-samyag-darsana-jnani whose avidya
has already vanished, to stabilise his aparoksha jnana. In the bhashya for
12.12, Bhagavatpada writes, “*aksharopasakaanaam*, *
samyagdarsananishthaanaam*... - for the worshippers of the Imperishable,
those who have *established themselves in samyagdarsana*.”
*Samyagdarsana*can initially be in the form of paroksha-jnana before
it blossoms into
aparoksha-jnana. Therefore, s*amyagdarsana* being the identical
characteristic of both the jnana-s, it can legitimately be interpreted
either as paroksa jnana or aparoksa-jnana depending on the context.

*Samyagdarsana* literally means right perception / knowledge. Right
knowledge is the knowledge of the Self, the knowledge obtained by
discriminating Self from all else, non-Self.  Paroksha-Jnana too, like
aparoksha-jnana, is right knowledge only. It is not mistaken knowledge
because it is not negated subsequently by any other knowledge. We know that
by Paroksha-Jnana, the aspect of non-existence of Brahman is eradicated and
by aparoksha-jnana, the vanishing of the non-shining aspect of Brahman is
caused.  Also, with aparoksha jnana, one’s avidya is completely routed.  As
seen before, paroksha jnana needs to be stabilised in order for it to become
aparoksha jnana. Bhagavatpada’s usage of *samyagdarsana* to denote both
aparoksha jnana and the stages before aparoksha jnana (where there is no
sthairyam of the prajna characterised by samyagdarsana) is not only flawless
but also serves to signify that Jnana and jnana-vishaya are the same
irrespective of whether it is mediate or direct.

 (Just to clarify, it is the word ‘sthairyam’ of the compound
“samyagdarsana-lakshana-prajnaa-sthairyam” occuring in the bhashya in
Chapter 2 that interested me.  I took advantage of this and reasoned that
the Jnana characterised by samyag-darsana-sthairyam is what is ultimately
required (for sakshatkara and avidya-nivrutti) than a mere samyag-darsanam
in the form of Paroksha Jnana. Arjuna’s samyagdarsana was in the form of
paroksha Jnana only.  That is why I said that, the first samyagdarsana in
the bhashya for 4.42 relates to paroksha jnana.)

If the first samyagdarsana were to mean paroksha jnana and if Arjuna was fit
only for Karma Yoga, why did Bhagavan want Arjuna to first get paroksha
jnana? Should he not have advised him to perform Karma Yoga and asked him to
tread Sankhya yoga subsequently? The answer is straightforward. Arjuna’s
case warranted that he first have atma-anatma viveka. In His commentary for
2.10, Bhagavatpada writes, “It was because his discrimination and practical
knowledge were undermined by grief and illusion that Arjuna refrained from
fighting.” He further says in 2.11 “Lord Vasudeva found that for Arjuna,
whose mind was thus confused about what ought to be done, swayed by
ignorance (mithyajnanavatha), and was sunk in great ocean of sorrow, there
could be no rescue other than through the knowledge of the Self, and
desiring to rescue Arjuna from that, he said, ‘(you grieve for) those who
are not to be grieved for’ etc., by way of introducing the knowledge of the

What should Arjuna do after mastering the Self (and getting rid of his
confusions?) The answer is found in the second chapter itself.

(2.45) For one who has acquisition and protection foremost in his mind, it
is difficult to seek liberation. Hence you be free from acquisition and
protection. *Master the Self and be vigilant. This is the instruction for
you who are to discharge your duty.*

* *

It is, therefore clear that right knowledge, samyagdarsana, or mastering the
Self, at least in the form of paroksha jnana was needed by him and the Lord
wonderfully imparted it and eradicated Arjuna’s delusion. *Arjuna’s Paroksha
jnana is not just some superficial knowledge of the Self.  It is a clear
knowledge devoid of samsaya and viparyaya. After all, Bhagavan has allowed
him to ask all sorts of questions. Everything has been taught about the
nature of Kshetra, Kshetrajna, Iswara, Brahman, Jnana, and also the means -
sanhkya and Yoga. Such a teaching of the entire essence of the Upanishads is
impossible to get unless one spends many decades of sravana and manana under
a sadguru. All that Arjuna needs is to be vigilant lest he once again falls
prey to delusion; he has to only strengthen his jnana by going through the
process prescribed for him.* ]

(To be continued)

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