[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.12 : part 1

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Mon Nov 21 02:43:20 CST 2005

namo nArAyANAya!
  in the previous verse, we saw that kR^iShNa advised arjuna not to  grieve, by showing the example of wise men, who do not grieve. now,  kR^iShNa gives the reason why grief is to be avoided by teaching that  the self is eternal and different from the body (sthUla sharIra).
  na tvevAhaM jAtu nAsaM na tvaM neme janAdhipAH.
  na chaiva na bhaviShyAmaH sarve vayamataH param..2.12
  there was never a time when I or you or all these kings did not exist  and there will never be a time when we shall cease to exist. 
  (this shloka will be dealt with in quite some detail since it  apparently suggests an ultimate plurality of selves. in fact, this is  one of the very few places in the entire gItA where shrI rAmAnuja has  written an extensive bhAShyam to refute advaita. this will be taken up  after going through BP's and MS's bhAShyam-s.)
 by stating  that all of us eternally exist, kR^iShNa refers to the existence of the  same self in the past, present and  future. here, the use of  plural (like ime janAdhipAH, vayam etc.) is only for the bodies. it  does not refer to a plurality of selves [1].
 MS explains this  shloka by taking help from nyAya darshana. from the first half of the  shloka which asserts the existence of everyone in the past, it is clear  that the self is not a pratiyogi of a previous non-existence [2]. and  from the second part of the shloka which states that everyone  will  continue to exist in the future, the fact that the self is  not a pratiyogi of non-existence caused by destruction [3] is shown.  together, this means that the self is neither produced nor can be  destroyed. it is eternal.
 since all known objects (including  the body and the mind) have either prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam or dhvaMsa  pratiyogitvam or both of these, it can be concluded that none of these  is the self. in particular, neither the body nor the mind is the self. 
  if something is not eternal, it is not the self. but we should not  hastily conclude that anything which is eternal is the self. for  instance, time, by it's very nature, is eternal. but time is not the  self. (time is eternal since there can be no time when time originated  or a time when time will end. to put it in other words, the notions of  'origination' and 'destruction' presuppose time and hence, cannot be  used for time itself.)
  shrI rAmAnuja's refutation of advaita based on this shloka will be taken up next. 
  a note on this and similar shloka-s:
  though it has been shown that the self is eternal, it must be kept in  mind that this statement is made only to show the eternal nature of the  self WITH RESPECT TO objects of the world. strictly speaking, time  itself is a notion which arises due to avidyA and hence, we cannot use  time to characterize the self. the eternality of the self should be  understood only in a relative sense. the self, by itself, since it  transcends time, is neither eternal nor non-eternal. a similar argument  can be given to show the relative nature of other statements like 'the  self exists','the self alone exists', 'the self is one only, without a  second','the self is all pervasive', 'the self is the witness of all'  and so on. saying that the self is of such and such a nature is only as  sensible as saying that a blind man sees everything black. this  statement can made by one who knows what colour is. but if a person is  blind from his birth, then, there is neither seeing nor a concept of  colour
 for him and the statement doesn't make any sense from his point  of view. similarly, when the mind dies, there is neither time nor space  nor subject nor object. all these statements are only for human beings.  (it is not necessary to say 'ignorant' human beings since it is only  through ignorance that we think that we are human beings.) to put it in  other words, as long as the mind is perceived to be real, so long,  these statements make sense. 
  footnotes and references
  [1] 'dehabhedAnuvR^ityA bahuvachanaM nAtmabhedAbhiprAyeNa.' (S.B.2.12)
  [2] an entity is called a pratiyogi of previous non-existence  (prAgabhAva) if is produced at some point of time and thus, was  non-existent before it's production. such an entity is said to have  prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam. for instance, this e-mail did not exist  before it was composed. so, it is a pratiyogi of it's previous abhAva.  if an entity is said to have prAgabhAva apratiyogitvam, or  equivalently, if it does not have prAgabhAva pratiyogitvam, it means  that the entity was never produced. 
 [3] an entity is called  a pratiyogi of non-existence caused by destruction (dhvaMsa) if at some  point of time, it is destroyed and thus, is non-existent after  destruction. such an entity is said to have dhvaMsa pratiyogitvam.  thus, if an entity does not have dhvaMsa pratiyogitvam, it cannot be  destroyed. 
  vAsudevaH sarvam,

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