[Advaita-l] GITA - avatArikA : part 3

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Sun Nov 6 02:29:03 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya!

summary of G.D. [1]

MS begins his G.D. with a ma~Ngala shloka to shrI
rAmachandra [2]. he says in the very beginning that
the purpose of gItA is to teach absolute liberation
(paraM niHshreyasam), in which saMsAra, together with
all it's causes is completely destroyed. this paraM
niHshreyasam [3] is also the purpose of all the

then, MS splits the entire gItA into a triad
consisting of six adhyAya-s each (1-6, 7-12, 13-18).
he mentions three different ways of integrating this
triad as one whole text, as follows:

a. just as the veda-s are divided into three parts
(karma, upAsanA and j~nAna kANDa-s), so also is the
gItA divided into three parts. the first six adhyAya-s
teach karma niShTha and the last six teach j~nAna
niShTha. since karma and j~nAna are opposites and
cannot be combined directly, bhagavadbhakti is taught
in the intervening six adhyAya-s. 

b. this is a slight modification of the first view.
here, he states that all the three parts of gItA deal
with bhakti. the first six adhyAya-s teach bhakti
mixed with karma (karma mishrA), the second six teach
pure bhakti (shuddhA) and the last six teach bhakti
mixed with knowledge (j~nAna mishrA).

c. the third way of splitting is based on the
mahAvAkya 'tattvamasi'. the first six adhyAya-s teach
the import of 'tat', the second six, 'tvam' and the
last six teach the unity of 'tat' and 'tvam', thus
completing the first two sections and also providing a
comprehensive meaning of 'tattvamasi'. 

after this, MS provides a neat (and quite thorough)
summary of the various phases in a sAdhaka's life -
from being a laukIka to being established in his own
nature, as a j~nAni. the first step is the performance
of actions based on one's varNa and Ashrama without
attachment to the fruits of action (niShkAma karma),
wholly avoiding actions that are prompted by desire
(kAmya karma-s) and those that are prohibited
(niShiddha karma-s). here, the greatest benefit
accrues by adoring hari, singing His divine names and
glories, doing japa etc. these purify the mind and in
such a pure mind, there arises a strong discrimination
(viveka) between the permanent and the transient. this
matures into a firm detachment (vairAgya) from all
pleasures. this, followed by a perfection of qualities
like shama etc. [4], makes renunciation firm (this
requires some discussion, please see [5]) and in due
course, produces a great desire for liberation
(mumukShA). one then approaches a guru (gurUpasadanam)
and goes through the process of shravaNam, mananam and
nidhidhyAsanam. in the stage of nidhidhyAsanam, the
entire set of scriptures on yoga are beneficial (this
is another point to be discussed, see [6]).
nidhidhyAsanam culminates in the direct experience of
the Atman (in nirvikalpa samAdhi, see [7]).

it does not end here. MS has a lot more to say in his
avatArikA. but since this mail has already become
quite big, i'll provide the summary of the rest of the
avatArikA in a separate mail.    

references and footnotes

[1] MS has done such a wonderful job in his avatArikA
that it is next to impossible to summarize it any
shorter than what he has written. so, i'll just
paraphrase his avatArikA and not provide the original
saMskR^ita reference here since that would amount to
typing the entire original text. those who are
interested in the original may refer to the iit kanpur
gita web site: http://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/ 

[2] it is surprising to note that MS starts off with
an invocation to rAma than to kR^iShNa since he
himself was a great kR^iShNa premi and since gItA is
more directly related to kR^iShNa than to rAma. 

[3] MS's wording in this case is quite beautiful. he
calls the state of liberation as "satchidAnandarUpaM
tatpUrNam viShNoH paraM padam."

[4] as is well known, the six qualities to be
perfected are shama (regulation of the mind), dama
(regulation of the body), uparati (inward turning of
the mind), titikShA (patience), samAdhAna
(concentration) and shraddhA (faith).

[5] the original text is "...sannyAso niShThito
bhavet". here, sannyAsa can either mean renunciation
or it can mean the physical act of entering
sannyAsAshrama. while mental renunciation is a
prerequisite either way, it is not clear whether MS
insists on physical renunciation in the form of taking
sannyAsa. apart from this, some also interpret uparati
as taking sannyAsa (mentally *and* physically).
learned members are requested to comment on this.    

[6] MS is a strong supporter of (aShTA~Nga) yoga and
his G.D. is filled to the brim with references from
pAta~njalIya yoga sUtra-s (P.Y.S.). however, some
mahAn-s, like svAmi satchidAnandendra sarasvatI (SS),
are of the opinion that P.Y.S. do not fit into advaita
and much more, that it is not necessary at all. while
i agree that P.Y.S. is not required for an
uttamAdhikAri who realizes his svarUpam the very first
instance he hears the truth from his guru, i'm not
sure if P.Y.S. can be completely ignored for the
others (who form the majority!). it is extremely
useful for the manda and madhyamAdhikAri-s. even MS
very clearly states in his G.D. that the state of
nirvikalpa samAdhi is not eternal, but one who has
reached that state knows for sure that this jagat is
mithyA and that the AtmA exists (he states this in the
second adhyAya; it will be taken up in detail when we
reach there). thus, even such a strong propounder of
P.Y.S. like MS acknowledges  it's limitations, though
retaining it's best features as necessary for sAdhana.
from whatever i have learnt so far, it seems as if
yoga is necessary but not sufficient for liberation
(uttamAdhikAri-s are excluded!). i'm of course talking
from the vyAvahArika viewpoint where some sAdhana or
the other is required. from the pAramArthika view
however, it is quite true that mokSha is not the
result of any sAdhana whatsoever. learned members are
requested to comment on this (yoga in advaita).     

[7] this is also related to the issue raised in the
previous footnote. the original text is
"...sAkShAtkAro nirvikalpaH...upajAyate". SS condemns
any form of sAkShAtkAra and says that this is not a
correct usage at all in his works. see for instance
"The Vision of Atman" where SS criticizes views in
both pa~nchapAdikA and bhAmati which use the word
sAkShAtkAra. the main basis of his refutation is that
the AtmA is svatassiddham and cannot be 'seen'. in the
same work, SS criticizes prakAshAtman's view that the
AtmA is seen during asampraj~nAta samAdhi and duality
is perceived othewise. to support his views, SS quotes
from BP's sUtra bhAShyam to show that Atma j~nAna is
not restricted to any particular state. here, in G.D.
avatArikA, what MS means here by sAkShAtkAra is quite
clear. he seems to use sAkShAtkAra in the same sense
as that of prakAshAtman, but with a difference - as
mentioned in the previous footnote,  MS also agrees
that nirvikalpa samAdhi is not nityam. the implication
is that during nirvikalpa samAdhi, the AtmA is known
directly, but this is NOT equal to liberation. to put
it in other words, one may attain nirvikalpa samAdhi
and yet remain in saMsAra. nirvikalpa samAdhi is just
a possible stage in the journey towards paraM
niHshreyasam. viewed this way, both SS's criticism and
MS's statement stand correct on their own grounds
without affecting each other.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.

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