“Brindaranya nivasaya balaramanujaya cha rukmini prananathaya partha sarathy mangalam”. This is the mangala slokam of the Husband of Sri Rukmini and Chariot Driver of Arjuna. He assumed the position of Acharya and taught the Gita. As Sri Gitacharya, as Sri Parthasarathy and as Sri VenkataKrishnan, He is gracing the devotees in Thiruvallikkeni [Triplicane, Madras]. He is same present here in Thirukkannankudi as Sri Damodara Narayana and Sri Shyamala Meni Perumal. Today the lecture is from the Sri Aravinda Nayaki Thayar sannidhi. Prostrating to the Divya Dhampathi, we will now see the 18th sloka. In the 17th sloka to prove that the atman is eternal, He gave one reason; atman is tiny and no other is tinier than the atman to destroy atman. Here, Acharya Sri Vedanta Desika poses a question in his Thathparya Chandrika, a treatise on the Gita. It is true that atman is indestructible as no other entity is smaller than that, except one. That one is Paramatma described as Antharayami. The Upanishads describe Him as ‘anor aniyan mahato maheeyan’ [atomic in atom and larger than the largest]. So can He destroy an atman? This is the question Desika poses. This is an interesting question. Earlier we gave an example of the mobile phone. As such an Rs.30,000 worth set will not work unless a tiny SIM card was placed in it. But this also is not enough, as we require the electro magnetic spectrum spread out for the mobile phone to have connectivity. This is provided by the towers [BT] erected in the area. Similarly if the atman [SIM card] in the body [Mobile handset] has to work, a towering personality –Paramatma [BT]- is needed. We can see another example also. Injection is needed to cure an illness. The medicine was administered using an injection syringe fitted with a needle. The illness got cured. Now, was it the piercing of needle into the patient cured the body? Though, needle piercing was necessary, that alone could not cure the illness and we require the medicine to be sent through the needle. So if we imagine the atman as a needle, the medicine is Paramatma. Thus God is present in each and every atman. Alwar says ‘udalmisai uyirena karandhengum parandulan’. So Sriman Narayana dwells within the soul. Then, He should be able to destroy the soul, is it not? The reply to this in the normal way, can put us in tight spot. If one says that atman is indestructible, we find Paramtma is tinier than that. If we still maintain that atman cannot be destroyed, then the All Powerful quality of God is disproved, as He cannot destroy atman. On the other hand, if we say Paramtma can destroy atman by accepting His all Powerful quality, then it means atman is destructible and what was told earlier as the everlasting quality is not there for the atman. Here, Desika gives an amazing answer to the question. It is most important to accept that God possesses the omnipotent quality and has the capacity to annihilate any atman. But out of sheer love for His darling atman, He has taken an oath as not to destroy any atman. So, it is His unwillingness to destroy an atman, makes the atman as eternal. It is similar to a case where, a door is locked and the only key is with a single person, who alone can open that door. If that person is away some 1000 miles away, we normally say, this door cannot be opened. What we imply is in the normal way it cannot be opened, unless the person comes with the key. So also, the atman can be destroyed only by a single Entity, but that Entity has vowed not to destroy and thus the atman is everlasting. One may wonder how far this assurance can be relied as Sri Krishna is famous for His tricks and cheats. Those are the playful deeds of the Lord as a cowherd and in a serious sermon He speaks only the truth and so His pledge not to destroy the atman is dependable. Now we can go to the 18th sloka:
antavanta ime deha
tasmad yudhyasva bharata
"The material body, of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity [atman] is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata."
Sri Krishna says to Arjuna,’ therefore you can fight’. ‘Why?’ asks Arjuna. ‘Because the body is perishable’, replies Sri Krishna. The body anyhow is going to perish and to establish this, three reasons are given. Anasi means never perishable. Prama is budhhi or wisdom. Prameyam means things we recognize using our wisdom. Aprameyam means that which is different from the prameyam or from the objects understood by wisdom. In other words aprameya means the knowledgeable atman. So, that atman which is imperishable and which has the power of knowledge is eternal and this atman is using the body to clear the karma or effect of past deeds. Once the karma is over, this body gets destroyed. In this sloka three important words are to be seen: ime, deha and saririnah. Ime implies the body we see. This is made of a combination of the five elements: prithvy, appu, vayu, agni and akash. We gave earlier the analogy of upma, an eatable. As such sooji, water and salt do not get spoiled, but a combination of these, which make upma, gets spoiled quickly. So our body also, a combination of the five elements, gets perished. Against this atman is pure and made only of wisdom or gyana. Next, deha means that which grows and decays. That which has organs or components will grow and decay. Like a building built of so many components, our body is made of various limbs, and so faces destruction. On the contrary, atman is without limbs and so no growth or decay. Sareeram means body and sareeri means atman, residing inside the sareeram. The atman is in a body to expend the punya or past good deeds by merry making and drain the papa or past misdeeds by sorrowing. So as the atman spends away the karma i.e. papa and punya, the body it has made as its abode, has to perish. We can tabulate these as below:
1. Combination of five elements Pure Gyana only
2. Possesses organs No organs or limbs
3. A vehicle to perform karma Beneficiary of the karma.
Because of the above three reasons, the body is perishable and the atman is ever enduring. Thus in the preceding two slokas, Sri Krishna establishes the eternity of atman and perishability of body by four reasons, viz. tiniest nature of atman, combination of elements, possession of organs and growth and decay of body with karma.