[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 4

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jun 30 06:54:57 CDT 2010

I am sorry for this big digression. Let me now resume to our discussion of
verse 18.73. Bhagavatpada says in His commentary, “From the reply of Arjuna
that ‘My delusion has gone’, it is decidedly shown that the fruit of knowing
the import of the Gita Shastra is only the destruction of delusion and the
winning of the memory of the Self.” One should recall what Bhagavatpada
wrote in the very beginning, “The Gita Sastra, elucidating especially the
two-fold law of the Vedas is aimed at emancipation”.

Coming to the question of the Upanishadic passages cited by Bhagavatpadal, I
said that, using the words of Arjuna, 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 (even it be Paroksha Jnana) and cites
these passages as pramana. As we know, the first passage cited by
Bhagavatpada is from the Chandogya Upansihad and consists of the words of
Narada, who approaches Sanatkumara, the well-known teacher of spirituality
and tells him that despite all his learning, he is very unhappy - “*na* *
atmavit*... *sochaami*  (VII.1.3) -- I am not a knower of the Self.  I am
full of sorrow.” Sanatkumara then instructs him about Brahman through a
detailed analysis. This section of the Upanishad ends with the passage cited
by Bhagavatpada, “*smruti*-*laabhe* *sarvagranthiinaam* *vipramokshah* --
After regaining of memory, comes falling asunder of all the knots of the
heart.” Though the passage describes the result of *aparoksha* jnana, look
at the striking similarity between the words of Arjuna (*smritr-labdhaa -
(aatmatattvavishayaa smritir labdhaa *) and that found in the Upanishad
cited by Bhagavatpada. Interestingly, I could put together some more
parallels. In the Gita, we find Arjuna, a competent disciple, overwhelmed by
grief and delusion approaching Bhagavan for succour. In the Chandogya
Upansihad, it is Narada, a highly qualified sadhaka under the grip of
misery, entreating Sanatkumara for imparting Him the Tattva. In both the
situations, it is Bhagavan Himself (as Krishna and as Skanda) who imparts
Knowledge; in both the situations, Bhagavan has not resorted to Mahavakyas
to teach the Tattva but only proximate statements about Brahman. Both the
aspirants had to subsequently work for aparoksha jnana. In the Chandogya
Upansihad, we do not find Narada claiming that he has got enlightened
instantaneously upon receiving the teaching from Sanatkumara. Of course, *
jnana-nishthaa* would have been the path to perfection in the case of
Narada, while Arjuna had to go through the path of Karma Yoga to qualify for
*jnaananishta*. This, perhaps, is the only difference between them. While
there are umpteen Sruti passages that could have been cited by Bhagavatpada
in the context, I don’t think any other passage would have echoed the view
of the Gita as closely as does the Chandogya Upanishad passage cited by Him.

The second passage cited by Him is the famous one from Mundaka Upanishad
starting with “*bhidhyate* *hrudayagranthih*”. This passage too is
significant as there is a clear link between this and the first one.
Bhagavatpada wants to show here that not only the ‘*granthi*-s’ - the host
of tendencies and impressions of ignorance in the heart  are destroyed, *but
also all the doubts become solved*, and all one’s actions becomes
dissipated, the moment the Self is realised.  While the first passage had a
link with Arjuna’s winning of *smrti* about the Self, the second passage has
a link, in particular, with his averment “*gatasandehah’* about the
vanishing of his doubts. What now remains to be talked about is the utility
of Jnana - the removal of delusion (moha) and misery (shoka) which is highly
relevant in Arjuna’s context. Here Bhagavatpada cites yet another beautiful
passage, this time round from the Isavasya Upanishad: “ *tatra* *ko* *mohah*
*kasshokah* *ekatvamanupashyatah* - What delusion and what sorrow can remain
for that seer of Oneness”.  In this manner, Arjuna’s averment, “*nashto* *
mohah*” too gets an authentication.

Thus, Bhagavatpada’s statement in His introduction to the Gita that the Gita
sastra,  elucidating the two-fold law of the Vedas is aimed at emancipation
stands vindicated by his demonstration of the unity in the teaching of the
Gita and the Veda, by citing passages from none other than the Principal
Upanishads, one each from the Sama, Atharvana and Yajur Vedas-s. What a
razor sharp intellect and an astounding memory Bhagavatpada should have had
to cite the most appropriate passages from the Sruti texts! He had no
published books in front of Him, no word indices, no Shastraani CD, or no
internet to browse - not even Sri Dakshinamurthy Storam book, an
encyclopedia of vedantic quotes  such as Sutra-bhashya etc :-).

Bhagavatpada’s commentary mentions that Arjuna has become a krutarthah, one
who has nothing else to achieve. How is this to be accounted for? It is very
simple; Arjuna himself says so. He says, “I shall do your bidding”. This
means he has no more personal goals to pursue. As he has now resolved to do
what Bhagavan has taught (that is, wage the war) in a spirit of dedication
and total surrender to the Lord, as Bhagavatpada would describe, “*samarpita
*-*saadhya*-*saadhana*-*prayojanah*, all goals, means and profit are
exclusively Bhagavan’s.”, where is anything for Arjuna to separately hold as
‘to be done or to be achieved”? So Bhagavatpada says, “*tvatprasadat* *
krutarthah*; *na* *me* *kartavyam* *asti* - I have done what is to be done
by your Grace. Nothing more remains to be done.”

Now arises another question. Would not Bhagavatpada’s mention of
aparoksha-jnana-related passages in the context, amount to extolling
Arjuna’s paroksha Jnana and resolve to dedicate all his actions in a spirit
of Karma yoga on the same footing as aparoksha jnana itself?

Bhagavatpada’s statement is not unprecedented as Bhagavan Himself does
something similar in 2.39: “But listen to this (wisdom) from the standpoint
of Yoga, by acquiring which you will discard the bondage of works.” In other
words, Bhagavan says that *by achieving Karma Yoga itself* *Arjuna will
surely win liberation*. It is only Bhagavatpada who describes the process
involved in His commentary of this verse: “Yoga is Karma Yoga, whose
immediate purpose is the worship of God. It is to be performed after
discarding, by the force of detachment, the pairs of opposites like heat and
cold. Also, it includes the achievement of samadhi or concentration.
Acquiring this knowledge of (Karma Yoga) you will surely cast off the
bondage of works. Note that action righteous or unrighteous is bondage and
that Arjuna will get rid of that bondage by the *attainment* *of
Knowledge*through God’s grace. This is the idea.” Again in 2.40,
Bhagavan extols Karma
Yoga : “Even a little of this dharma (karma yoga) delivers one from great
peril of transmigratory life with its births, deaths and so forth.”

Let me give a worldly example. Take the case of a person who has got a valid
ticket, a  passport and a visa for U.S.A and has also boarded the
appropriate flight. Even though it might take a day or two for him to reach
his destination, when someone enquires about him, we say, “He has to gone to
America”. After all we are sure that the person concerned is already taken
the flight and therefore, it is more or less equivalent to his having gone
to America itself. Similarly, when Bhagavan says that acquiring the wisdom
of Karma Yoga itself will cause one to discard the bondage of works, He is
sure that the Karma Yogin will gradually but surely attain liberation
through the practice of the requisite sadhana.

(To be continued)

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