[Advaita-l] For whom is bondage?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 18 07:51:30 EDT 2017

For whom is bondage?

In the Bhagavatam there is the conversation between Lord Krishna and
Uddhava on various philosophical topics. Here is one:

प्रत्यक्षेणानुमानेन निगमेनात्मसंविदा ।
आद्यन्तवत् असज्ज्ञात्वा निःसङ्गो विचरेदिह ॥ ९ ॥ 11.28.9

Through pratyaksha, anumana, scripture and own anubhava, know that whatever
has a beginning and end is 'asat' = mithya, and go about your life with
श्रीउद्धव उवाच -
नैवात्मनो न देहस्य संसृतिर्द्रष्टृदृश्ययोः ।
अनात्मस्वदृशोरीश कस्य स्यादुपलभ्यते ॥ १० ॥
आत्माव्ययोऽगुणः शुद्धः स्वयंज्योतिरनावृतः ।
अग्निवद्दारुवद् अचिद् देहः कस्येह संसृतिः ॥ ११ ॥

Uddhava asks:

There is no samsara, bondage, either for the Atman, the drk which is
self-effulgent or for the body, the not-self which is the seen, drshya.
This being the case, for whom indeed is samsara? The Atman is beyond decay,
nirguna, pure, self effulgent and without anything to envelop it. In the
case of the fire-wood and fire, while they are indistinguishable when the
burning is going on, surely the fire is the illuminer/burner and the
firewood is the illumined, burnt, consumed. Hence, in the body-mind-Atma
case, the Self is the illuminer and impeller and the body-mind is the
illumined and impelled. For whom then is the samsara?

Sridhara Swamin explains the 9th verse:  The pramanas for 'aadyantavattva'
(the nature of having a beginning and end) are stated - तत्र प्रत्यक्षेण
घटादि | अनुमानेन सावयवत्त्वेन द्ऱुश्यं प्ऱुथिव्यादि | निगमेन
अप्रत्यक्षमाकाशादि |  आत्मसंविदा स्वानुभवेन सर्वं द्ऱुश्यमाद्यन्तवदसच्च इति
ज्~जात्वा | निःसंगः तदासक्तिशून्यः | We know from pratyaksha that pot, etc.
have a beginning and end. Through anumana we know that everything that is
made of parts will perish when the parts disintegrate such as prthvi. From
the shruti we know that aakaasha, etc. that are a-pratyaksha do have a
beginning and end. One's own experience is there that everything in the
creation is with a beginning and end as well as asat.

The reply given by Bhagavan is that even though the Self that is
self-effulgent, svaprakasha and the body that is inert and para-prakaashya
do not have samsara, yet for the one who has no such discrimination
(between the self and the not-self), avivekena, samsara is there for him to
experience. It is the jiva who is an admixture of Self and not-self. It is
for him the problem of samsara to be solved. When solved, he realizes that
he was not, is not and will not be jiva; he is Brahman forever.

Thus, samsara is due to aviveka, adhyasa. The BG 13th chapter is quite
explicit that the mixing up of purusha and prakrti is the cause of
continued birth.


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