[Advaita-l] The jeeva can reach a state of no hope

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Dec 4 05:49:25 CST 2010

ShrIgurubhyo namaH

The Bhagavadgita, while holding that a discriminating human can reach the
highest  state, which is none other than mokSha, absolute liberation, and
never return to samsara, bondage, does have some verses that draw one's
attention to some dreadful possibilities the jiva can land itself in.

The Chapter 16, verses  18, 19 and 20 are worth studying in some detail.
Here is the Translation of these verses along with the commentary of

16.18 Ahankaram, egotism - that which considers the Self to which have been
imputed actual and imaginary qualities as 'I am this', which is called
ignorance and is most painful, and is the source of all ills as also of all
evil deeds; so also balam, power, which seeks to defeat others and is
associated with passion and desire; darpam, arrogance, a particular defect
abiding in the mind, on the upsurge of which one transgresses righteousness;
kAmam, passion with regard to women and others; krodham, anger at things
that are undesirable;- samshritAhH - resorting to these and other great
evils; and further, pradviShantaH, hating; mAm, Me, God, transgression of My
commands is hatred (towards Me); indulging in that, atma-para-deheShu, in
their own and others' bodies as the witness of their intellects and actions;
(they become) abhyasUyakAH, envious by nature, intolerant of the qualities
of those who tread the right path.

16.19 Because of their defect of unrighteousness, aham, I; kShipAmi, cast,
hurl; ajasram, for ever; all tAn, those; who are dviShantaH, hateful of Me;
krUrAn, cruel; and ashubhAn, who are evil doers; samsAreShu, in the worlds -
who are on the paths leading to hell; who are the nara-adhamAn, vilest of
human beings, who are opposed to the right path, who are hostile to the
pious people; eva, verily; AsUrIShu, into the demoniacal; yoniShu, classes -
tigers, loins, etc., which are full of evil deeds. The verb cast is to be
connected with 'into the classes'.

16.20 ApannAH, being born, having acquired; (births) AsUrIm, among the
demoniacal; yonim, species; janmani janmani, in births after births; the
mUDhAH, fools, non-discriminating ones; being born in every birth into
species in which tamas prevails, and going downwards, aprApya eva, without
ever reaching, approaching; mAm, Me, who am God; O son of Kunti, yAnti, they
attain; gatim, conditions; tatah adhamAm, lower even than that.*Since there
is not the least possibility of attaining Me, *what is implied by saying,
'without ever reaching Me', is, 'by not attaining the virtuous path enjoined
by Me.'

   - This last verse is what is of utmost importance in this study. The
   salient features of the verse/bhashyam are:
   - The downward fall is imminent.
   - 'Reaching/attaining the Lord, Parabrahman' which means  getting
   liberated from samsara, is completely ruled out.
   - The deplorable conditions where the jiva attains to will have no
   opportunity ever to practice the path of virtue taught by the Lord/Veda and
   grow gradually and attain liberation.
   - The path to liberation is virtually sealed for the jiva.
   -  Anandagiri writes: the AsurI sampat or demoniacal qualities result in
   a cascade of evils inimical to the pursuit of ANY puruShArtha - artha, kAma,
   dharma and mokSha. (sarva-puruShArtha-paripanthinI)
   - Therefore, as long as a man has not attained any overpowering birth
   (which prevents/stifles spiritual evolution), one has to strive to attain
   the daivI sampat or divine qualities and move upwards.
   - Sri MadhusUdana Saraswati introduces the verse 20 thus: Will not these
   evil jiva-s also attain to liberation at the end of several births (as
   stated by the Gita verse: 7.19: At the end of several births the man of True
   Knowledge attains to Me')? 'No' says the Lord here.The downfall is so
   pronounced that there will be absolutely no way one can prevent it by any
   effort whatever.  One is completely subjected to the overpowering influence
   of those dreaded births.
   - When the lower forms of life/birth have been attained, there will be no
   possibility of practicing sAdhana and there will NEVER be a way to
   - He quotes a smRti (?): 'ihaiva narakavyAdheH chikitsAm na karoti yaH .
   gatvA nirauShadham sthAnam sarujaH kim kariShyati'. //He who fails to cure
   the ills of hellish-diseases here itself (that is in this human birth
   itself), what indeed will he do when he finds himself in a birth where he is
   diseased and no panacea (for uplifting oneself) can be found?//

   What is most worthy of noting here is Shankaracharya's comment: '*there
is not the least possibility of attaining Me'*.  It shows that according to
the Lord and the BhAshyakAra, a jiva can reach a state of no-return, not TO
samsara, but FROM samsara.  Nothing can be done by the jiva in such a state
to salvage itself for the darkness of tamas is  so overwhelming that there
will simply no way one can become aware of a way to free oneself from
samsara.  And naturally there will be no way to practice the virtues that
lead to liberation.  Such a jiva will be eternally languishing in samsara.

The triad of the above verses end with a hope, opening in the next verse,
rather a strong exhortation, to give up, with effort, the Asuric nature and
practice, with effort, the divine qualities and move forward.

Om Tat Sat

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list