The Bhagavad-Gita, With the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya (1901) Part IV

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Part 3 of 4 of the Bhagavad-Gita

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<p>A. 336 THE BHAGAVAD-GITA. [DiS. XIIL from the Supreme Self, acts and is tainted, then the identi- ty of Kshetrajna with the Isvara spoken of in such places as xiii. 2 would be inexplicable. If, on the other hand, there be no embodied self distinct from the Isvara, then tell me who acts and is tainted : or say that the Isvara is not Supreme."- On the ground that the doctrine of the Upanishads taught by the Lord is thus in every way diffi- cult to understand and difficult to explain, it has been abandoned by the Vaiseshikas, as well as by the Sankhyas, the Arhatas, and the Buddhists. (AiisK'ey): As regards this objection, the following answer I has been afforded by the Lord Himself. " It is Nature that acts " (xiii. 2). The idea that there is one who acts and is tainted is a mere illusion (avidya) and nothing else. Action does not really exist in the Supreme Self. It has, for this very reason, been pointed out by the Lord here and there that there is no necessity of performing works (karma) for those devotees of Wisdom, for the order of Paramahawsa-Parivrajakas, Avho adhere to this doctrine of Supreme Truth ( Paramartha-Sankhya-darsana ) and have risen above avidya and vyavahara, nescience and all experience (due to avidya). Like what does He not act, like what is he not tainted? Here follows the illustration : 32. As the all-pervading akasa is, from its subtletyt, never soiled, so the Self seated in the i body everywhere is not soiled. If the /svara be the doer and c.ijjyer, Him by avidyd. Therefore the Lord's He is no longer the /svara, any more teaching should be accepted as true. A than ourselves. A. J Because akasa. is so subtle that it + The answer is this : The Supreme is pervades all without obstruction, it is in reality neither the doer nor the enjoyer- not at all affected by mire, etc., which it Agency and enjoyment are attributed to pervades. A. 32-34'] MATTER AND Sl'IRlT. 337 The 5elf illumines all. Moreover,''' ^^. As the one sun illumines all this world, so does the embodied One, O Bharata, illumine all bodies. The embodied one ( Kshetrin ), the Supreme Self (Paramatman), is one and illumines all bodies, the whole material being (Kshetra), from the Avyakta (theunmanifest- ed material cause of the universe) down to the unmoving objects, from the ' Great Elements ' down to ' firmness ' (xiii. 5-6). The illustration by means of the sun serves here a double purpose with reference to the Self, showing that, l ike the su n, the Self is One onl y in all bodies, and that like the sun, He is unsoiled. The doctrine summed up. The teaching of the whole discourse is concluded as follows : 34. They who by the eye of wisdom perceive the distinction between Kshetra and Kshetrajna, and the dissolution of the Cause of beings, they go to the Supreme. They who in this manner perceive the exact distinction, now pointed out, between Kshetra and Kshetrajna, by the eye of wisdom, by means of that knowledge of the Self * The Lord proceeds to show that the affected by the attributes ot the coguis* Sslf, b3ing the cogniser, cannot be ed. A. 43 338 THE BHAGAVAD-GITA. [DiS. Xlll. which has been generated by the teachings of the sastra and the master (iicharya), and who also perceive the non- existence of Praknti, Avidya, Avyakta, the material cause of beings, they reach Brahman, the Real, the Supreme Self, and assume no more bodies. FOURTEENTH DISCOURSE. THE THREE GUNAS. The subject of the discourse. It has been said that all that is born is produced by the conjunction of Kshetra and Kshetrajna. How can it be so ? The present discourse is intended as an answer to this question. Or the connection may be explained thus : With a view to show that it is Kshetra and Kshetrajna, both dependent on the isvara, but not independent in themselves as the Sankhyas hold, that constitute the cause of the universe, it has been stated that the dwelling (of the Kshetrajna) in the Kshetra {i. c, his self-identification with Kshetra) and his attachment for the Guas form the cause of sa7;/sara (xiii. 2i). In what Gunas and in what way is He attached? What are the Gu7;as ? How do they bind him ? How is liberation from the Guas attained ? What are the cha- racteristics of a liberated soul ? With a view to answer these questions, the Lord proceeds as follows : Knowledge of the origin of the universe is necessary for Salvation. The Blessed Lord said : I. I shall again declare that sublime knowledge, the best of all knowledges; which having learnt, all the sages have passed to high perfection from here. Though declared more than once in the preceding dis- 340 THE rhagavad-gIta [Dis. XIV- courses, I shall again declare that knowledge which is sublime as concerning itself with the Supreme Being, and which is the best of all knowledges'as productive of the best result. ^ All knoidedgcs ' does not refer to those which have been spoken of as knowledge in the verses xiii. 7-10, but to those kinds of knowledge which relate to sacrifices and other such things to be known. These (latter kinds of knowledge) do not lead to salvation, whereas the knowledge which is going to be imparted in this discourse does lead to salva- tion. So, the Lord praises this latter knowledge by the epithets ' sublime ' and ' best,' in order to rouse interest in the minds of the hearers. And having learnt this know- ledge, all the sages (munis) the sawnyasins, those who are devoted to contemplation (manana) have passed from here from this bondage of the body to high perfection, known as moksha or liberation. The Lord now proceeds to declare that this knowledge unfailingly leads to perfection : 2. They who, having resorted to this knowledge, have attained to unity with Me, are neither born in the creation, nor disturbed in the dissolution, 'Unity' (siidharmya) here nieans 'identity.' It does not mean 'equality in attributes,' since in the Gita-sastrajio distinction is made between the tsvara and the Kshetrajna. And a declaration of the (true main) end (of knowledge) is here necessary to praise the knowledge.''' They who, having resorted to this knowledge, i. c, having practised the * If equality were meant here, then it dhyuna, not that of knowledge, of which would only be a statement of the fruit of the Lord is here speaking. A. 1-4.] THE THREE GUNAS. 34I necessary means whereby to attain that knowledge, have attained to identity with Me, the Supreme Lord, are neither born at the time of creation nor disturbed at the time of dissolution; /. f., they are not afifected even at the time of Brahma's dissolution. Evolution of the universe from the union of Spirit and Matter. The Lord now proceeds to explain what sort of conjunc- tion of Kshetra and Kshetrajfia is the cause of all beings: 3. My womb is the great Brahman ; in that I place the germ ; thence, O Bharata, is the birth of all beings. My 7i&gt;omh'. My own Praknti, i.e., the Prak;'iti which belongs to Me, the Maya made up of the three Gu;/as, the material cause of all beings. This Praknti is spoken of as great because it is greater than all effects ; and as the source and nourishing energy of all Its modifications, It is termed Brahman. In that Great Brahman I place the germ, the seed of the birth of the Hirayagarbha, the seed which gives birth to all beings. I who am possessed of the two potencies (Saktis), the two Prakntis of Kshetra and the Kshetrajfia, unite the Kshetrajfia with Kshetra, the Kshetrajfia conforming Himself to the upadhis of avidya (nescience), kama (desire), and karma (action). This act of impregnation gives rise to the birth of all beings through the birth of the Hira;iyagarbha. 4. Whatever forms are produced, O son of Kunti, in any wombs whatsoever, the Great Brahman is their womb, I the seed-giving Father. 342 THE bhagavad-gIta. [Dis. XIV. Wombs : such as the Devas, the Pitns, men, cattle, beasts. Forms : such as the bodies which are the condensed aggregations of several parts and limbs. Of these forms, the Great Brahman ( Praknti ) which passes through all states of matter is the cause ; and I, the Isvara, am the Father, the author of impregnation of the seed in the womb. The gunas bind the soul. What are the guas ? How do they bind ? The answer follows : 5. Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, these guas, O mighty-armed, born of Prakriti, bind fast in the body the embodied, the indestructible. Sattva (goodness), Rajas ( vigour, activity, passion ) and Tamas (darkness) thus are the gu?;as named. ' Gu7/a ' is a technical term. It does not mean a property, attribute or quality, such as colour, as opposed to the substance in which it is said to inhere. '= No separate existence of a gwia. and a gumn of an attribute and a substance is [meant here. Accordingly, the guas here meant are so called because, like the attributes of substances, they are ever dependent on another, namely, the Kshetrajwa, as they are only forms of avidya or nescience ; and they bind fast ^5 it weve the Kshetraja. They are said to bind Kshetrajna because they come into being with Kshelrajj^a as the basis of their existence. Born of the Lord's Maya, they bind fast as it * These Gunas are the primary consti- be said to be qualities inhering in these tuents of the Praknti and are the bases substances. A, of all substances ; they cannot therefore 4-6.] THE THREE GUNAS. 343 were in the body the embodied"'' one, the indestructible Self.f That the Self is indestructible has been shown in xiii. 31. Mighty-armed : with powerful arms reaching down to the knees. (Objection) : It has been said that the embodied one is not tainted (xiii. 31). How then, on the contrary, is it said here that the guas bind him ? (Ansiifcy) : We have met this objection by adding * as it were ' , ' they bind him as it weve.^ The nature and functions of the gunas. Of these three gu;/as, Sattva is thus defined : 6. Of these, Sattva, which, from its stainless- ncss, is lucid and healthy, binds by attachment to happiness and by attachment to knowledge, O sinless one. It is stainless like a pebble-stone, and therefore lucid and healthy. t Sattva binds the Self by making Him think ' I am happy : ' it binds Him by causing in Him attach- ment to happiness j, by bringing about a union of the sub- ject, (the Self,) with the object, (happiness). It makes Him think, " Happiness has accrued to me." This attachment to happiness is an illusion ; it is avidya. An attribute of the object cannot indeed belong to the subject; and it has * Him who identities himself with the rellect Consciousness ; healthy, because body A. it is so pure as to perfectly mirror the f They make it appear that the Self Spiritual Bliss. A. undergoes all the changes that take place S The happiness and knowledge here In them. A. spoken of ate those modifications of the ; It is stiiinUss, because it is able to Sattva in which .-Itman's inherent happi- ward oil all veiling ; lucid, as able to ness and consciousness are nianifested.-.\ 344 THE BHAGAVAD-GITA. [DiS. XIV. been said by the Lord that all the qualities from ' desire ' to ' courage ' (xiii. 6) are all attributes of Kshetra (matter), the object. Thus it is through avidya alone which forms an attribute (dharma) of the Self as the non-discrimina- tion . between the object and the subject, that Sattva causes the Self to be attached as it were to happiness which is not His own, causes Him, who is free from all attachment, to be engrossed as it were in happiness ; causes to feel happy as it were Him who does not possess the happi- ness. Similarly, Sattva binds the Self by attachment to knowledge, i' rom its mention here along with ' happiness,' ' knowled,t;i. ' meant here must be an attribute of the anta/j- karaa of the Kshetra (matter), of the Object, not of the Self ; for if it were an attribute of the Self, it cannot be an attachment and cannot be a bondage. Attachment to knowledge arises in the same way that attachment_to happiness arises. 7. Know thou Rajas (to be) of the nature of passion, the source of thirst and attachment ; it binds fast, O son of Kunti, the embodied one by attachment to action. Rajas is of the nature of passion, coloring (th e soul) lik e a piece of red_ chalk, &amp;c. Know it to be that from which arise thirst and attachment, thiyst after what has not been attained, attachment or mental adherence to what has been attained. It binds fast the embodied Self by attachment to action, Iw making Him attached to actions productive of visible and invisible results '- * Though the self is not the agent, the doer.' A Rajas makes Him act with the idea ' I am 6-IO.] THE THREE GUNAS. 345 8. But, know thou Tamas to be born of un- wisdom, deluding all embodied beings ; by heed- lessness, indolence and sloth, it binds fast, O Bharata. The third gua, Tamas, causes delusion or non-d iscrimi nation. Again the action of the guas is briefly described as follows : 9. Sattva attaches to happiness, Rajas to ac- tion, O Bharata, while Tamas, enshrouding wis- dom, attaches, on the contrar}-, to heedlessness. Tamas, by its very nature as a veil, covers the judgment caused by Sattva and attaches one to heedlessness, i. e., to the non- performance of necessary duties. The mutual action of the gunas. When do the guwas produce the effects described above ? ' The answer follows : 10. Sattva arises, Bharata, predominating over Rajas and Tamas ; and Rajas, over Sattva and Tamas ; so Tamas, over Sattva and Rajas. When Sattva increases, predominating over both Rajas and Tamas, then, asserting itself, Sattva produces its own effect, knowledge and happiness. Similarly, when .the gu7ja of Rajas increases, predominating over both Sattva and Tamas, then it gives rise to its own effect, viz., action such as husbandry. Similarly, when the gua called * The quastion is: Uo they produce cast, do they act in mutual concord or their effects simultaneously, or at difler- discord ? The answer is that they act ac .nt limes, each in its turn? In the former diflcrent times, each in its turn. A. 44 346' THE BHAGAVAD-GITA. [DiS. XIV. Tanias increases, predominating over both Sattva and Rajas, then it produces its own eftects, the covering of wisdom, etc. How to know when a particular guna is predominant. What is the characteristic mark by which to know when a particular gua is predominant ? The answer follows : 11. When at every gate in this body there shoots up wisdom-light, then it may be known that Sattva is predominant. /AH the senses such as hearing are for the Self the gale- ways of perception. When at all these gates in this body , there arises what is called light, illumination (prakasa), i.e. the presence of anta/^-kara/^a, of buddhi, then we have wliat is called knowledge (j,'/ana). When the light of know- ledge thus springs up, thi.i, by that mark of knowledge, it may be known that Sattva is predominant. The characteristic marks of predominant Rajas are these : 12. Greed, activity, the undertaking of works, unrest, desire, these arise when Rajas is predomi- na...</p>

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