[Advaita-l] GITA - arjuna viShAda yoga

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Sun Nov 13 11:06:55 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya!

in this mail, the essence of gItA from 1.1 to 2.9 will
be discussed. the name of the first adhyAya is arjuna
viShAda yoga. viShAdaH means sorrow. viShAda is called
a yoga because sorrow itself can give vairAgya (though
this has to be further strengthened and made permanent
by proper knowledge received from a guru. see also
gItA 1.32 which indicate that arjuna developed some
amount of vairAgya because of his sorrow.) 

if it be asked why the instructions given to arjuna
are relevant to us, the answer is that the purpose of
gItA is not to enforce any form of action, but to
teach Atma vidyA, for the destruction of grief and
delusion (shoka and moha). since shoka and moha are
common to all of us, kR^iShNa's upadesha to arjuna is
indeed very relevant to us.

to summarize the developments so far, it was seen
earlier that arjuna, prior to kR^iShNa placing the
chariot between the two armies, knew fully well that
he was fighting with the kaurava-s to establish dharma
(see gItA 1.23). but, after that, he no longer saw
kaurava-s as an opponent with whom he had to fight,
but as his own teachers, brothers etc. (gItA 1.26,27).
this arose solely due to his attachment to the kuru-s
(see gItA 1.33). this developed in him a false sense
of compassion towards the kaurava-s (see gItA 1.28).
to justify his compassion, he gave a large number of
reasons (see gItA 1.28-46, 2.4). finally, he concluded
that living on alms was better than fighting with the
kaurava-s (see gItA 2.5). 

thus, we see that arjuna, because of his attachment to
his relatives, was no longer able to distinguish
between what was to be done and what was to be avoided
and decided to take up a form of life that was
prohibited for a kShatriya (begging). this represents
a very important characteristic of the delusion which
overtook arjuna. this delusion projects what is dharma
as adharma and what is adharma as dharma. the grief
that is a necessary successor of this delusion along
with the delusion itself makes one refrain from one's
own svadharma and embrace some paradharma. the lesson
to be learnt from this is as follows: one's svadharma
is to be done irrespective of one's likes and
dislikes. likes and dislikes arise only due to moha
and should always be shunned.  

the above delusion causes one to swerve from one's
svadharma. a more fundamental delusion is the
appearance of this world (or more fundamentally, the
notion of 'i'). to those who see a world, right action
(i.e., one's vaidika svadharma, depending on one's
varNa and Ashrama), when done without a desire to the
fruits of action and when dedicated to Ishvara, leads
to chitta shuddi. this gives one the eligibility to
enter j~nAna mArga and only through j~nAna can this
fundamental avidyA be destroyed. the entire gItA
shAstra deals with the means of the destruction of
this avidyA. if avidyA is destroyed, it's effects like
saMsAra, grief  etc. automatically get nulled. 

it is very clear from 2.7 that arjuna's grief was more
due to an inability to distinguish adharma from
dharma. the reason why kR^iShNa taught arjuna Atma
vidyA and not some dharma shAstra is that this grief,
which arose due to arjuna's attachment to his body,
can be removed only by the knowledge of the Atma
svarUpa and not by any other means. nor can it be said
that kR^iShNa taught only Atma vidyA to arjuna for it
was stated in the avatArikA that both pravR^itti
dharma and nivR^itti dharma is taught in the gItA. 

in order to understand why grief can be removed only
by Atma vidyA, let us discuss the nature of grief in
general (the arguments presented below are valid both
in the waking and dream states, but not in the deep
sleep state. deep sleep is a different piece of cake
altogether and will not be taken up here. but since
the notion of 'i' exists only during waking and dream
states, the arguments given below should be
sufficient). grief is a particular state of the mind
when either the objects we like are separated from us
or when we come into contact with objects we don't
like (happiness is also another state of the mind and
it is defined similarly). it is a well established
(and directly verifiable) fact that all objects we
know of are temporary (however short or long be their
duration of existence). it is the natural tendency of
the mind to seek happiness. happiness, as is normally
understood, is a particular subset, specific to every
individual, of the set of all inputs from the various
senses. thus, happiness (sukham) is indriyAnubhavam
(here indriya also includes the mind). however, to
acquire this happiness, one needs to work hard. thus,
there is suffering while one works for obtaining the
desired objects. after one obtains the desired
objects, there is grief due to the anxiety that the
acquired object may be lost. since all objects are
temporary, anything that is acquired has to depart.
and finally, there is grief due to separation from the
desired objects. thus, there is suffering before,
during and after contact with objects. to put it in
other words, the entire gamut of desire prompted
actions and the subsequent results (sAdhana-sAdhya)
which give temporary happiness is only grief in
disguise. to argue differently, since all the
happiness we experience is only indriyAnubhavam, and
since the indriya-s are themselves subject to decay
and death, the happiness obtained through the
indriya-s is actually suffering only. what is
impermanent is not worth striving for. since all
happiness is acquired as the result (sAdhya) of a
particular effort (sAdhana), true happiness is beyond
the range of all sAdhana-s and is not the result of
any sAdhana. anything that is acquired because of any
action, be it normal work or meditation, is only
temporary. thus, grief cannot be eradicated by any
amount of action whatsoever. to sum it up, the whole
universe that we experience is both anityam and
asukham and hence, there is no use in looking for a
freedom from grief there. grief can be eliminated only
by knowing the infinite storehouse of bliss dwelling
deep within the heart - by realizing one's true
nature. it is this Ananda, which is our svarUpa
lakShaNa, that can eradicate grief. hence, grief can
be destroyed only by Atma j~nAna. 

the arguments given above were based on the universal
experience of the impermanent nature of objects and
the presence of suffering. another (more powerful) way
to arrive at similar conclusions and to penetrate
deeper into the nature of the dR^iShya and the dR^ik
is by an analysis of the waking and dream states. the
analysis of the deep sleep state is not at all easy
has a lot of complications involved in it. since these
form the subject of texts like the mANDUkya upaniShad,
we need not take them up here. the analysis given in
the previous paragraph alone should be sufficient for
developing enough vairAgya to perform one's svadharma
without falling into any form of adharma.         

it is not totally out of place to discuss an important
aspect relating sannyAsa here. arjuna, because of his
grief, got some vairAgya and decided to take up a life
of begging. kR^iShNa, knowing fully well arjuna's
level of maturity, advised him to follow pravR^itti
dharma (karma yoga). on the other hand, it can be seen
from shrImad bhAgavata that kR^iShNa ordered uddhava
to take up the life of a sannyAsi though uddhava
wanted to be with kR^iShNa all the time, following the
pravR^itti mArga. thus, it is clear that whether one
can enter nivR^itti mArga is not something that can be
decided by oneself. pravR^itti dharma is what is to be
followed by default. nivR^itti dharma should be
embraced only when a guru approves that or when
naiShkarmya siddhi is attained because of a perfection
of pravR^itti dharma (as in the case of janaka).      

to conclude, attachment to objects (dR^iShya), which
is the fundamental avidyA, is the reason why the dR^ik
is not 'seen'. when actions are done in the right
manner, chitta shuddhi is obtained and such a clear
mind can easily destroy itself by 'merging' into the
dR^ik. for those in pravR^itti mArga, actions are
inevitable, and during all times of crisis, only
dharma has to be held to firmly and not adharma, even
though the latter may be a more feasible option

[i'm extremely sorry if my tone was didactic at any
point in this mail. i don't have paripUrNa vairAgya
and i'm aware of my own limitations. so, strictly
speaking, i'm not qualified to talk about vairAgya.
i'm only exposing my hypocrisy here by talking of the
greatness of vairAgya and the strict performance of
one's svadharma since i'm struggling hard to follow
these in my own life.] 

from the next mail, the core of the gItA (from 2.11 to
18.66) will be taken up, (hopefully) one shloka per

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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

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