Monday, December 20, 2010 9:07 am

Presentation of the Teaching of mithyAtva in the bhagavadgItA (1 of 3)

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतागत-प्रपञ्चमिथ्यात्वलक्षणप्रदर्शनम्

Presentation of the teaching of MithyAtva in the Bhagavadgita (mithyAtva = unreality)


In the sequel is a translation of the Sanskrit essay on the above topic. The Sanskrit and the English portions appear sequentially and help a reader conversant with Sanskrit to read those portions and also appreciate the translation. Those not conversant with Sanskrit could skip those portions and read just the English version. The translation is also an elaborate explanation of the Sanskrit essay.

अत्र द्वितीयाध्याये षोडशतमश्लोक  एवं पठ्यते –

Here, in the Second Chapter, is the verse –

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।

उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोः तत्त्वदर्शिभि: ॥ इति ।


Of the unreal there is no being; the real has no nonexistence. But the nature of both these, indeed, has been realized by the seers of Truth. (gItA (2.16))

श्लोकेऽस्मिन् ‘नाभावो विद्यते सतः’ इत्यंशे ब्रह्मणस्सत्यत्वमभिहितं भगवता, तैत्तिरीयश्रुत्युक्त ‘सत्यं ज्ञानं अनन्तं ब्रह्म’ इति ब्रह्मस्वरूपलक्षणानुरोधेन ।  ‘त्रिकालाबाध्यत्वं सत्यत्वलक्षणं’ इति परिष्कृतलक्षणं भगवत्पादैः तैत्तिरीयभाष्ये अति गहनार्थबोधकतया एवमुक्तम् – यद्रूपेण यन्निश्चितं तद्रूपं न व्यभिचरति, तत् सत्यम् ।  यद्रूपेण यन्निश्चितं तत् तद्रूपं व्यभिचरति, तदनृतमित्युच्यते । अतो विकारोऽनृतम्, ‘वाचारंभणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम्’, एवं सदेव सत्यम् इत्यवधारणात् ।इति। गीतागतब्रह्मलक्षणस्य व्याख्यानतया विराजते भाष्यवाक्यमिदं भगवत्पादीयम् ।


In this verse, in the portion ‘the real has no nonexistence’ the Absolute Reality of brahman is stated by the Lord. This is in accordance with the taittiriya upaniShad definition of the intrinsic nature of brahman in the terms: ‘satyam, j~nanam, anantam brahma’ [brahman is Existence, Consciousness and Infinite]. The nature of brahman concisely stated as ‘that which is not sublatable in all the three periods of time’ has been elucidated in a very deeply insightful statement in the commentary to the taittirIya upaniShad:

‘As for satyam, a thing is said to be satyam, true, when it does not change the nature that is ascertained to be its own; and a thing is said to be unreal when it changes the nature that is ascertained to be its own. Hence a mutable thing is unreal, for in the text, “All transformation has speech as its basis, and it is name only. Clay as such is the reality.”‘ (Ch. Up. (6.1.4)), it has been emphasized that, that alone is true that Exists (Ch.Up. (6.2.1))’

‘ब्रह्म सत्यम्’ इत्यंशस्य प्रतिपादनं पूर्वं दृष्टम्, इदानीं ‘जगन्मिथ्या’ इत्यस्य निरूपणं ‘नासतो विद्यते भावः’ इत्यनेन क्रियते ।  ननु असतः कथं मिथ्याशब्दार्थकत्वं, सदसद्विलक्षणस्यैव तथात्वात् । ननु च असच्छब्दस्य अत्यन्तासद्द्योतकत्वमेव लोके दृष्टं, शशविषाणगगनकुसुमप्रभृतिषु,  तेन च कथं मिथ्यार्थकत्वसिद्धिः? इति चेत्, शृणु तत्र समाधानम् ।


In the foregoing, the aspect ‘brahman is the Reality’ (brahma satyam) has been established.  In the sequel the aspect ‘the world is unreal’ (jagan mithyA) is taken up by analyzing the portion ‘Of the unreal there is no being’ of the verse (2.16).

Objection: How do you say that the word ‘asat‘ (non-existent) connotes the sense of being ‘unreal’, ‘mithyA‘, since only that which is ‘sad-asad-vilakShaNam‘, distinct from both existent and non-existent, can qualify to be termed unreal, mithyA?  Further, the word ‘non-existent’ denotes only that which is absolutely non-existent such as the hare’s horn and a sky-flower.  Hence how does the idea of unreality, mithyAtvam, become conveyed by the term ‘asat‘ of the verse?

Reply: For such an objection, the reply is stated as follows:

श्लोकस्य उत्तरार्धे तत्त्वदर्शिनां ज्ञानं पूर्वार्धोक्तसदसतोरुभयोरपि निर्णयरूपमुक्तम् । यदि ‘असत्’ इत्यस्य शशविषाणादिकं गृह्येत, तत् पामरैरपि असत्त्वेन निष्प्रत्यूहं गृह्यमाणत्वात्, तत्त्वदर्शिविषयकत्वं तस्य अति नीरसं स्यात् । प्रत्युत पण्डितपामरसामान्येन सर्वैरपि स्वाभाविक्या अविद्यया संसारित्वं प्रपञ्चं च पारमार्थिकतया गृह्यमाणे सति, तन्निवारकतया शास्त्रप्रवृत्तिरिति सिद्धे, भगवता ‘ब्रह्म सत्यं, जगन्मिथ्या’ इत्युपदेशः सार्थकत्वं सामञ्जस्यं च  प्राप्नुयात् ।

In the second half of the verse, the knowledge/realization of the Knowers-of-Truth is being stated as that which constitutes the accurate understanding of the nature of both the ‘sat and asat‘, real and the unreal.  If ‘asat‘, unreal, is to be taken to mean ‘non-existent’, like the hare’s horn, it would be very trivial to mention it as the realization of the Knower-of-Truth, for even those who are most ill-informed of the higher things of the world would deem the hare’s horn and the like as something absolutely non-existent; they do not have to be taught about this. On the contrary, if we admit that the scriptural teaching is aimed at removing the ignorance-caused nature-driven notion held by all learned and the lay that the samsara, bondage, is absolutely real, then we can appreciate that the Lord’s teaching of ‘brahman is the Real and the world is unreal’ is purposeful and quite in order.

‘यत्र हि द्वैतमिव भवति’ (बृहदारण्यक २.४.१४, ४.५.१५), ‘नेह नानास्ति किञ्चन’ (बृहदारण्यक ४.४.१९), ‘मृत्योस्स मृत्युं गच्छति य इह नानेव पश्यति’ (कठ २.१.११) इत्यादिबह्व्यः श्रुतयः इवशब्दप्रयोगेण द्वैतस्य मिथ्यात्वं प्रतिपादयन्ति, आमनन्ति, बोधयन्ति च । ‘भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च’ (१३.३४) इति भगवतापि सकारणस्य जगतः मिथ्यात्वं ज्ञापितम् । त्रयोदशाध्यायगतश्लोकेऽस्मिन् तत्त्वदर्शिनो लक्षणमेवमुक्तम् – क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरेवमन्तरं ज्ञानचक्षुषा । भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम् ॥ १३.३४ ॥ इति ।

Numerous upaniShad-ic passages such as – ‘where there is dvaita as it were’ (Br. Up. (2.4.24), (4.5.15)), ‘there is no diversity here whatsoever’ (Br.Up. (4.4.19)), ‘whoever has the wrong vision of diversity goes from death to death’ (kathopaniShad (2.1.11)) – by the use of the particle ‘iva‘ (‘as though’) establish, proclaim and teach the unreality of dvaita, duality. The Lord too, through the words ‘bhUta-prakRti-moksham cha‘ (bhagavad gItA (13.34)), teaches the unreality, mithyAtva, of the world. In this verse the marks that signify knowledge of the Truth are specified:

1. The discriminatory knowledge that differentiates the kshetra, prakriti, the inert principle and the kshetrajna, the Conscious Being; and

2. The knowledge of the unreality/nonexistence of the causal and manifested universe.

(अ) ‘नासतो विद्यते’ इतयत्र भाष्यम् – नासतो=अविद्यमानस्य शीतोष्णादेः सकारणस्य न विद्यते नास्ति भावो भवनम् अस्तिता ।  (अत्र शीतोष्णादेः इति प्रकरणात् – श्लोकः२.१४ गृहीत:, सकारणस्य इति शीतोष्णादेः कारणं यत्किञ्चिदपि वस्तु अग्निसूर्यादिहिमवातादिकं गृह्यते ।) न हि शीतोष्णादि सकारणं प्रमाणैर्निरूप्यमाणं वस्तु सद्भवति ।  विकारो हि सः, विकारश्च व्यभिचरति । यथा घटादिसंस्थानं चक्षुषा निरूप्यमाणं मृद्व्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेरसत्, तथा सर्वो विकारः कारणव्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेः असन् । जन्मप्रधवंसाभ्यां प्रागूर्ध्वं चानुपलब्धेः कार्यस्य घटादेः मृदादिकारणस्य च तत्कारणव्यतिरेकेण अनुपलब्धेः असत्त्वम् । तदसत्त्वे सर्वाभावप्रसङ्ग इति चेन्न, सर्वत्र बुद्धिद्वयोपलब्धेः सद्बुद्धिरसद्बुद्धिरिति । यद्विषया बुद्धिर्न व्यभिचरति तत्सत्, यद्विषया व्यभिचरति तदसत् इति सदसद्विभागे बुद्धितन्त्रे स्थिते सर्वत्र द्वे बुद्धी सर्वैरुपलभ्येते समानाधिकरणे । …सन्घटः सन्पटः सन्हस्तीति । एवं सर्वत्र । तयोर्बुध्योर्घटादिबुद्धिर्व्यभिचरति । तथा च दर्शितम् । न तु सद्बुद्धिः । तस्मात् घटादिबुद्धिविषयोऽसन् व्यभिचारात्, न तु सद्बुद्धिविषयोऽव्यभिचारात् । (पूर्वप्रदर्शिततैत्तिरीयकभाष्यपङ्क्तयोऽत्र स्मर्तव्याः) ……..एवमात्मानात्मनोः सदसतोरुभयोरपि दृष्ट उपलब्धोऽन्तो निर्णयः सत्सदेव, असदसदेवेति त्वनयोर्यथोक्तयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः । तदिति सर्वनाम सर्वं च ब्रह्म तस्य नाम तदिति तद्भावस्तत्त्वं ब्रह्मणो याथात्म्यं तत् द्रष्टुं शीलं येषां ते तत्त्वदर्शिनः । इति ।

Reproduced hereunder is a portion from shaMkarAcharya’s commentary on the bhagavadgItA verse (2.16) –

Asatah, of the unreal, of cold, heat, etc. together with their causes; na vidyate, there is no; bhaavah, being, existence, reality; because heat, cold, etc. together with their causes are not substantially real as they are perceived/grasped by means of instruments. For they are changeful, and whatever is changeful is inconstant. As configurations like pot etc. are unreal since they are not perceived to be different from earth when perceived by the eyes, so also are all changeful things unreal because they are not perceived to be different from their (material) causes, and also because they are not perceived before (their) origination and after destruction.

(आ)  क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरेवमन्तरं ज्ञानचक्षुषा ।

भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम् ॥ १३.३४ ॥ इत्यत्र्स्थभाष्यमेवं वर्तते –

क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरन्तरं इतरेतरवैलक्षण्यविशेषं ज्ञानचक्षुषा शास्त्राचार्योपदेशजनितमात्मप्रत्ययिकं ज्ञानं चक्षुः तेन ज्ञानचक्षुषा,  भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च भूतानां प्रकृतिः अविद्यालक्षणा अव्यक्ताख्या तस्या भूतप्रकृतेर्मोक्षणं अभावगमनं च ये विदुः विजानन्ति, यान्ति गच्छन्ति ते परं परमार्थतत्त्वं ब्रह्म, न पुनर्देहमादत्ते इत्यर्थः । इति ।

Given here is a part of shaMkarAcharya’s commentary on the bhagavadgItA verse (13.34):

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 which has been generated by the teachings of the shAstra and the Acharya, and who also perceive the non-existence of PrakRti, avidyA, avyaktA, the material cause of beings, – they reach brahman, the Real, the Supreme Self, and assume no more bodies.

इदानीं श्लोकद्वयभाष्यगतविशेषांशाः प्रदर्श्यन्ते ।

The special points that occur in the comparative study of the bhavadgItA verses (2.16) and (13.34) along with the Bhashyam:

१. तत्रादौ नासतो विद्यते भावः इत्यत्र असतोऽभावो यदुक्तं व्यतिरेकमुखेन तदेव भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च इत्यत्र अन्वयमुखेन बोधितं भगवता । द्वितीयश्लोकभाष्ये भूतप्रकृतेर्मोक्षणं अभावगमनं इत्युक्तिः आद्यश्लोकोक्त-असतोऽभावं परामर्शन्निव द्योतते । एवं च भगवत्पादीयं भाष्यं भगवद्विवक्षां सम्यक् स्फुटीकुर्वद् वर्तते ।

In the portion ‘Of the unreal there is no being’ (2.16) that which has been stated in a contrary manner is indeed stated in the concordant manner in the portion ‘the non-existence of the prakriti‘ (13.34).  The word ‘(knowing that prakriti is) non-existent’ of the Bhashya (13.34) is as if it is referring to the word ‘a-bhAvaH‘ of the verse (2.16).  In this manner the Bhashya brings to the fore the intent of the Lord with respect to both the verses.

२. असत् तथा भूतप्रकृति: इति शब्दद्वयं समानार्थकम् । तथैव अभावः एवं मोक्षणं इति पदौ समानार्थकौ मन्तव्यौ । द्वितीयश्लोकभाष्यगत’परमार्थतत्त्वं’ इति पदं पूर्वश्लोकगत-‘तत्त्वदर्शिभि:’ इत्यनेन निकटं सम्बध्यते ।

The words ‘asat‘, non-existent, unreal, and ‘bhUtaprakRti‘, the Causal Energy principle, mean the same.  So also, the words ‘abhAvaH‘ and ‘mokShaNam‘ are to be seen to mean ‘non-existent’.

३. अत्रास्मिन् द्वितीयश्लोके मोक्षोपयोगिज्ञानस्य लक्षणद्वयं स्फुटं प्रतीयते – १. प्रकृत्यपरपर्यायक्षेत्रं, दृश्यं, जडं, विषयं, क्षेत्रज्ञात् द्रष्टुः, चैतन्यात्, विषयिणो, विलक्षणतया गुरुशास्त्रोपदेशमनु विविच्य द्रष्टव्यम् तथा २. एतन्मात्रविवेकेन पारमार्थिकाद्वैतसिद्धिर्न स्यादिति भगवान् प्रकृत्याख्यक्षेत्रस्यापि कार्यकारणरूपेण संपूर्णतया अभावत्वमविद्यमानत्वज्ञानमपि क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञविवेकज्ञानस्य पूरकतया उपादिशत् । एतेन नासतो विद्यते इत्यत्रोक्तांशद्वयं श्लोकेऽस्मिन्नपि अवधारितं स्पष्टमुपलभामहे । पूर्वत्रांशद्वयं – सतः ब्रह्मात्मनोऽप्रतिहततया सत्यत्वम्, असतः देहादिप्रपञ्चस्य सर्वथापि अविद्यमानत्वम् च इति । एवञ्च प्रपञ्चमिथात्वसाधने भगवतो तात्पर्यसद्भावे संशयलेशोऽपि नास्तीति स्फुटम्।

In this second verse (13.34) the two-fold aspect of the liberating Knowledge is clearly spelt out –

1. The prakRti, also known as kshetram, dRshyam (perceived), inert, objectified being,  is quite distinct from the Conscious Seer, the kshetraj~na, the Apprehender as is known from the teaching of the Guru and the Scripture and

2. Since by this much discrimination the pAramaarthika Non-dual Truth does not get established, the Lord teaches the non-existence of the Prakriti as another indispensable aspect of the liberating Knowledge.  Thus, the twin-aspected knowledge characterising the realization of Truth taught in (2.16) is found mentioned, specified, in this verse (13.34) as well.

The two aspects seen in (2.16) are:

1. the absolute Reality of brahman; and

2. the absolute unreality, non-existence, of the world characterized by the body, etc. By such reiteration by the Lord we conclude that the Lord’s intention is in teaching ‘brahma satyam, jagan mithya‘.

Part 2

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