SankarAcArya's bhagavad gItA bhAshya: 2. 17-18

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon May 31 16:57:38 CDT 1999

This post takes up the commentary on verse 2. 18. See posting on May 26
for the verse and translation.

Commentary -

Things that are known to get destroyed are things that come to an end.
The perception of reality in a mirage is destroyed when examined by
the proper instruments of knowledge - that is the end of the mirage.
Likewise, those of proper discrimination say that these bodies of the
eternal, indestructible, indeterminable, embodied Self come to an end,
like illusory bodies in a dream.

To say 'eternal' (nitya) and 'indestructible' (anASin) is not a
repetition. There are two kinds of permanence seen in the world, so
also with destruction. The body burnt to ashes is seen no more - this
is called destruction. Even when the body is seen, it is said to be
destroyed when it has been otherwise transformed by disease or other
reasons. The meaning is that the Self is not touched by either kind of
destruction. Or else, the permanence of the Self may be held to be like
that of objects like earth. To overrule this possibility, it is said
'eternal' and 'indestructible'.

'Indeterminable' (aprameya) - that which cannot be measured, by means
of right cognition such as perception etc. [1]

Objection - The Self is determined by scripture, preceded by perception.

Response - No, the Self is self-established (svataH siddha). Any
measurement or knowing is possible only after the Self, the measurer, the
knower, is established. There is no determination of any object without
first knowing, 'so and so am I'. There is nobody to whom the self is
absolutely unknown. The scripture is the final authority, not for
revealing a Self that is totally unknown before, but only for removing
the superimposition of qualities of the not-Self. Thus, the Veda says,
"That which is immediately present, Brahman, the Self, present in all."
(bRhadAraNyaka - 3. 4. 1)

As this Self is eternal and changeless, therefore fight, do not
withdraw from the war. Here, there is no injunction to fight. All that
is meant is that having started the war, Arjuna's grief and delusion
has stopped him from carrying out his intention. The Lord has simply
removed the obstacle that has prevented Arjuna from acting. Hence, this
command to fight is not an injunction, but only an elaboration of this

Notes -

1. The generally accepted means of cognition in advaita vedAnta are -
perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumAna), analogy (upamAna), absence or
non-obtaining (anupalabdhi), postulation (arthApatti) and scripture (Sruti).
>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Tue Jun  1 09:51:32 1999
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