[Advaita-l] Question on Gita 8.3, 13.13

Shrinivas Gadkari sgadkari2001 at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 7 23:43:14 CDT 2008

Shri Vidyasankar,
Thanks for the special efforts you have made to study commentaries
to answer this question.
I would like to point out an issue of concern that may or may not be
Suppose in 8.3 we read "akshara is paramam brahma".
 - In 12.3 and 15.16 we have clear identification of the state of akshara
   with kUTastha (brahma).
 - 15.17, goes on to describe the state of purushottama that is higher
   than akshara/ kUTsatha.
 - So purushottama will be beyond paramam brahma.
 - Then, using view point of purushottama it may be possible to split
   13.13 as "anAdi + matparaM + brahma ".
However, if "paramam akshara is brahma" is also a valid reading of
8.3 (which I assume is the case based on your reply), we can associate 
brahma defined in 8.3 with kUTasatha brahma and have 13.13 read
"anAdimat + paraM + brahma" which can then be associated with
If we want to complicate matters even more, we can also consider 14.3.
"mama yonir mahat brahma" - here certainly the brahma that is referred
is subordinate to the reference point "mama" - in the same verse.
I personally feel our scriptures describe various grades of brahma and 
perhaps on purpose not clarify things well enough - probably this gap is
left for the sadguru to fill.
With best regards,
In verse 13.13, the language would allow one to split anAdimatparaM
brahma as anAdi + matparaM + brahma or as anAdimat + paraM + brahma. If
we look at the few following verses, beginning with jneyaM yat tat
pravakshyAmi, it is clear that brahman is here described as the jneya,
jyotishAM jyoti, sUkshma etc. It would therefore be reasonable to take
param as qualifying brahma and parsing the compound as anAdimat + paraM
+ brahma.
In verse 8.3, if we again take the context into account, we see that
chapter 7 has ended with a mention of adhyAtma, adhibhUta, adhiyajna and
adhidaiva, leading to a question from Arjuna at the beginning of chapter
8, asking for explanations of all these. In particular, the term akshara
in conjunction with brahma in verse 8.3 contrasts with ksharo bhAvaH in
verse 8.4, in conjunction with adhibhUta. This indicates that 8.3
intends that brahman is indestructible (akshara). Therefore, we should
take paramam as qualifying the term brahma. As Sankara bhagavatpAda
points out in the commentary, the praNava (aumkAra) which is also
usually called the akshara, is not meant here.
Best regards,

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