Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gitabhasya of Jagannatha Prakasa: 2:11-13: The Nature of God and Self Revealed

The Gitabhasya
Of Jagannatha Prakasa
Translation and Commentary by Jagannatha Prakasa (John of AllFaith © 1993/2008)
Sankhya Yoga:
Yoga of the Intellect

2:11: The Blessed One said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.
    People seek to deceive and trick us, sometimes knowingly for their own purposes and sometimes with the best of intentions. Here we find Arjuna is confused about the nature of reality and the nature of Self, the soul or jiva atman. He therefore laments the coming loss of people who are so dear to him. These emotions are clouding his judgment and interfering with his service to God and his society. In his desperation he now turns to the true Source of all knowledge, Sri Bhagavan, The Blessed Lord of all that is. In the following verses Sri Krsna explains the nature of the Self wondrously.

2:12: Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.

2:13: As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul also passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

    The Self or Soul -- the real "I" stripped of all temporary identifications, illusions and limitations -- is a spark of the Divine One. The individual soul or living entity -- known as jiva atman -- is part and parcel of the One God -- known as parama atman or paramatman -- and yet the individual is most certainly not God. The individual is neither equal to nor independent of Ek Devata (the One God however conceived).

    We living entities are His eternal servants according to His good pleasure and we will never become equal to nor surpass the One.

    This seeming contradiction was explained nicely by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, founder of the Gaudiya or Bengali Vaisnava sect as acintya bheda abheda tattva:

    The "form" (tattva) of the One God and the "form" of the limitless individual living entities are inconceivably (acintya), simultaneously one (bheda) and different (abheda). The pundits of the Puranas explained this by saying the living entities are like individual drops in the Ocean of the One God. These "drops" are of the same essential essence as Paramatman (God) and yet they are utterly different, being limited fragmented reflections of the Absolute Whole.

    Another way to express this is to say "God is our Father." The child is of the same essence as the father but maintains individual existence from him. Understanding this an individual with true knowledge (gyan) can say, "Tat Tvam Asi!" (तत् त्वम् असि or तत्त्वमसि) "Thou art That" recognizing the omnipresence of God. This Oneness in Diversity will be discussed in more detail later on.

    Sri Krsna therefore explains to Arjuna that there is no reason to lament the condition of the assembled warriors as each plays his part in the coming conflict. He should perform his duty with undisturbed mind!

    Arjuna has come under illusion and Sri Krsna will now enlighten him.

    This false association with material nature was clarified by King Maitreya for Vidura in this way. The sage had questioned how all the jivas could emerge from Bhagavan (the One God) who is ever satisfied in Himself and yet, despite this essential divine nature, experience so much confusion and suffering. Maitreya, as Sri Krsna does here, explains that it is only due to maya (illusion) and ignorance (avidya) that the entities are so deceived:

    Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.9-13: Sri Maitreya said: Certain conditioned souls put forward the theory that the Supreme Brahman, or the Personality of Godhead, is overcome by illusion, or māyā, and at the same time they maintain that He is unconditioned. This is against all logic.

    The living entity is in distress regarding his self-identity. He has no factual background, like a man who dreams that he sees his head cut off.

    As the moon reflected on water appears to the seer to tremble due to being associated with the quality of the water, so the self associated with matter appears to be qualified as matter.

    But that misconception of self-identity can be diminished gradually by the mercy of the Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, through the process of devotional service to the Lord in the mode of detachment.

    When the senses are satisfied in the seer-Supersoul [i.e. Paramatman], the Personality of Godhead, and merge in Him, all miseries are completely vanquished, as after a sound sleep.

      From: Srimad Bhagavatam, translated by His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Jai Jagannatha!
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