[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.17

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jan 4 12:42:59 CST 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

having taught the nature of dR^iShya prapa~ncha as
mithyA, kR^iShNa now instructs arjuna on the nature of
brahman, the reality which is seen as a universe of
multiplicity due to avidyA,

avinAshi tu tadviddhi yena sarvamidaM tatam.
vinAshamavyayasyAsya na kashchitkartumarhati.. 2.17

but know that to be imperishable, that by which all
this is pervaded. no one can destroy this, which is

this shloka establishes the existence of an ultimate
reality - brahman - and thus refutes doctrines like
nihilism which deny the existence of an ultimate

here, 'tu' - 'but' - is used to emphasize the freedom
of brahman from all the threefold limitations (desha,
kAla and vastu parichChinnatvam) that asat has. since
it is free from all these limitations, it is
'avinAshi' - imperishable. this brahman, known as
'sat', is then taught to be all pervasive and

when we normally want to express our 'self', we use
the word 'i'. but this 'i', which appears to be the
substratum of our existence because of it's presence
in all our perceptions, is also temporary since it is
non-existent in deep sleep. this 'i' itself is a
modification of the mind which is superimposed on
brahman. the origination or destruction of a
particular modification of the mind does not imply the
origination or destruction (vinAshatvam) of brahman
just as the creation or destruction of the pot does
not cause a creation or destruction of the AkAsha
inside the pot.

the all pervasiveness of brahman is to be understood
in the sense that anything that is perceived is only a
superimposition on brahman due to avidyA. or, since
our real self - brahman - remains unaffected by the
three states and merely remains as their sAkShi, it is
said to be all pervasive.   

for something to be mutable, it must either have some
parts which are mutable or some properties that can
change. since brahman is both partless (niravayava)
and without any properties (nirguNa), it is 'avyaya' -

since it is immutable, no one or nothing can cause
it's destruction. this can also be understood noting
that the unreal can never delimit the real though it
may appear to do so because of avidyA. 

to sum up, after knowing that there is nothing to seek
for in the world, one must strive to know that
self-evident, immediate and ever present reality which
is our true self and which remains unchanging amidst
the various changes of our mind.

(MS's bhAShyam on this shloka is quite long and deals
with issues related to deep sleep and the nature of
knowledge. the final result of this analysis is
presented above. but the analysis itself would better
fit in a discussion of the three avasthA-s. hence,
they will be dealt with separately later on.)

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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

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