[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.28

Amuthan aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Tue Feb 7 11:00:48 CST 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

it was taught earlier that it is improper to grieve
about the eternal self. now, kRShNa teaches that grief
is inappropriate even with respect to the bodies and
other objects that we see,

avyaktAdIni bhUtAni vyaktamadhyAni bhArata.
avyaktanidhanAnyeva tatra kA paridevanA.. 28

O bhArata, the bodies (or objects) are unmanifest in
the beginning, they are manifest in the middle and
they will surely become unmanifest in the end. (this
being so,) what is there to lament?

that which is perceived by the five senses is said to
be manifest. the bodies (i.e., our own and that of
others) that we see were not present in the beginning
(i.e. before our birth and before the birth of
others). they become nonexistent in the end (i.e. upon
our death and the death of others respectively). thus,
the bodies are unmanifest in the beginning and the end
and appear only in the intervening period. what is non
existent in the beginning and the end is surely non
existent in the intervening period also. this accords
with what was stated earlier (2.16) 'nAsato vidyate

to appreciate the meaning of this verse better, let's
see what happens in a dream. during a dream, we see a
world with many people with whom we have some
relationship. again, during the dream, these people
and the relationship that we have with them appear as
real as those in the waking state. these people were
not present before the dream and they don't exist
after waking up. they appear only during the dream.
after waking up, will any sensible man worry about his
separation from the people seen during the dream? the
waking state is no different. the bodies which we see
in the waking state are also as temporary as that seen
during a dream. hence, there is no place for any grief

more generally, 'bhUtAni' can refer to the pa~ncha
bhUta-s. the pa~ncha bhUta-s, which constitute the
material of our own body, that of others and all the
objects that we perceive, have the unmanifest
(avyakta) as their cause. this verse teaches the
causal relationship between vyakta prapa~ncha
(manifested world) and avyakta prapa~ncha
(unmanifested world). what is vyakta has avyakta as
it's cause and ultimately becomes avyakta. 

what has been taught by kRShNa in this shloka is also
taught in the bR.up. vAkya that we have been
discussing recently (1.4.7) 'taddhedaM
tarhyavyAkRtamAsIt tannAmarUpAbhyAmeva vyAkriyata' -
'this was undifferentiated (= unmanifest). it (then)
differentiated (= manifested) into name and form
only'. all that we see is a rather elaborate bunch of
names and forms which have a fleeting existence. these
names and forms have avidyA as their basis and have no
real existence. hence, there is no need to lament in
vain for what is seen or heard.

just as in a dream, we superimpose various
relationships like 'i', father, mother, friend etc. on
various bodies and suffer when these bodies decay. it
is to dispel this suffering that we have deliberately
(though unknowingly) created for ourselves that kRShNa
teaches this cause-effect relationship between the
manifest and the unmanifest. 

it is interesting to note that what kRShNa teaches to
arjuna in order to dispel his grief upon imagining the
loss of the kaurava-s is taught in a strikingly
similar way by vidura to dhRtarAShTra after the
destruction of the kaurava-s. for instance, vidura
says 'adarshanAdApatitaH punashchAdarshanaM gataH.
nAsau tava na tasya tvaM vRthA kA paridevanA..'
(mahAbhAratam, strI parva 2.13) - 'from the unseen
comes (this body or the body of relatives) and (it)
goes to the unseen (= avyakta). it is not yours and
you are not related to it. what then is the necessity
to lament?'. 

it is quite illuminating to go through the manner in
which vidura consoles dhRtarAShTra (strI parva 2 - 7).
it is filled to the brim with wisdom that will boost
our levels of vairAgya. though this attachment to the
body that we have cannot be removed by just knowing
(intellectually) that we are not the body, it is only
by repeatedly reflecting upon upadesha-s such as those
given by kRShNa to arjuna or by vidura to dhRtarAShTra
that we can strengthen ourselves whenever sorrow
confronts us and move forward in our pursuit of the
vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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