[Advaita-l] No Arjuna was not a jnani

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Jun 20 01:14:48 EDT 2021

Having heard the soul-stirring words of Krishna Bhagavan at the beginning 
of the battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna shook off his depression and fought. 
Eventually the Pandava side won and the survivors now back in Indraprastha 
made preparations for Yudhisthira to perform the Ashvamedha yajna 
confirming his position as emperor.  Krishna bhagavan says after the 
festivities are over He will return to Dwarka.  Whereupon Arjuna says to 

  विदितं ते महाबाहॊ संग्रामे समुपस्थिते  माहात्म्यं देवकी मातस तच च ते रूपम ऐश्वरम
  यत तु तद भवता परॊक्तं तदा केशव सौहृदात तत सर्वं पुरुषव्याघ्र नष्टं मे नष्टचेतसः
  मम कौतूहलं तव अस्ति तेष्व अर्थेषु पुनः परभॊ  भवांश च दवारकां गन्ता नचिराद इव माधव

[Translation based on Kishorimohan Ganguly's one. Also some of the 
sanskrit appears to have typos in it but I haven't had time to examine it 
more closesly.]

"O mighty-armed one, your greatness became known to me upon the approach 
of the battle. O son of Devaki, your form also, as the Lord of the 
universe, then became known to me! What you said to me at that 
time, O Kesava, out of friendship, has all been forgotten by me, O best
of men, in consequence of the ***fickleness of my mind***. Repeatedly, 
however, have I been curious on the subject of those truths. But O 
Madhava, you will return to Dwaraka soon."

This is the start (there are a few introductory shlokas that establish the 
frame story but this is the actual start) of the Anugita in the 
Ashvamedhaparvan of the Mahabharata.  This work also has a commentary by 
Shankaracharya though it is not nearly as well known as some of his other 
works.  Given that Shankaracharya quotes from the Anugita several times in 
the prasthana trayi, even some historians who doubt the authenticity of 
many works ascribed to Shankaracharya, consider this Anugitabhashya to be 

Anyway Krishna Bhagavan replies to Arjuna

शरावितस तवं मया गुह्यं जञापितश च सनातनम  धर्मं सवरूपिणं पार्थ सर्वलॊकांश च शाश्वतान
अबुद्ध्वा यन न गृह्णीथास तन मे सुमहद अप्रियम नूनम अश्रद्दधानॊ ऽसि दुर्मेधाश चासि पाण्डव

"You heard from me the most secret and eternal truths that are regarded as 
dharma in its purest form in all the worlds.  It is displeasing to me that 
in your folly **you did not understand** what I taught then.  Truly **you 
lack intelligence** and **are devoid of faith**.

So then what prompted Shankaracharya to make the remarks he made on 
Bhagavadgita 18.73?  First of all he does not actually say Arjuna is a 
jnani.  Arjuna himself at that moment *thinks* he has grasped what Krishna 
bhagavan is telling him and his doubts have been dispelled enough to 
rescue him from despair and fight as Krishna Bhagavan has advised him to. 
But as his later life story shows, Arjuna did not in fact grasp the big 
picture.  That's why in the Anugita passage quoted above, he is 
specifically admonished as being "devoid of faith".  He followed the 
teachings of the Gita enough to win the war but did not follow it to its 
ultimate conclusion.  Shankaracharya goes on to say that this destruction 
of moha and recognition of identity with Brahman is the purpose of "this 
shastra" and if it is understood fully, nothing further needs to be known. 
Perhaps that is why Krishna Bhagavan goes on to say in the Anugita:

स हि धर्मः सुपर्याप्तॊ बरह्मणः पदवेदने  न शक्यं तन मया भूयस तथा वक्तुम अशेषतः
परं हि बरह्म कथितं यॊगयुक्तेन तन मया  इतिहासं तु वक्ष्यामि तस्मिन्न अर्थे पुरातनम

"I cannot, Dhananjaya, repeat in detail what I had said then. That dharma 
which is enough to know the Parabrahman, was revealed when I was in a 
state of yoga [yogayukta]  I shall [instead] tell you an itihasa that 
you will be better able to understand."

I don't know why Krishna Bhagavan thinks he cannot re-enter that yogic 
state but that's what he says.  Perhaps because the Bhagavadgita is 
already "complete" and contains His divine energy so it cannot be added 
to.  If Arjuna didn't get it the first time, there is no point in 
repeating the same thing again.  The Anugita is more in the style of 
akhyanas like in itihasa-purana which might be more at Arjunas level for a 
Jnani he is not.

-- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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