Saturday, April 28, 2007


On this day [27th April, 2007] also the lecture was from the Sri Sowriraja Perumal temple at Thirukkannapuram. We saw how atman cannot be cut or burnt or dissolved. We can remember one story connected with Janaka, father of Sri Sita. Sage Yagnavalkya had many disciples and the King of Mythila, Janaka, was one among them. Yagnavalkya never started the lessons before Janaka arrived. The disciples grudged that their master was giving too much importance for Janaka and they thought that because Janaka was the king, their master was giving undue importance. Yagnavalkya understanding the other disciples’ bitterness wanted to show what type of disciple Janaka was. So, one day as the class was going on, out of his yogic power, Yagnavalkya made the city of Mythila appearing to be on fire. When the disciples heard that the city was on fire, they all, except Janaka, got up from their class and rushed to city to see whether their belongings were in tact or not. When they realized that it was a false alarm, they returned to the ashram to resume the classes. Yagnavalkya enquired why they went and what belongings of them were all in danger. One disciple said he was afraid his kamandal [a pot was keeping water] would have been destroyed. Another feared the loss of his cloth, etc. All these were very useless articles. Finally, the teacher asked the king, why he did not rush to see whether his properties were protected or not, when his properties were so valuable and precious. Janaka replied that the lesson he learnt all these days was that he owned no property and all the materials possessed by him were all destructible and only his atman was imperishable. Therefore, there was no use for him to go. Even if Mythila was burnt his soul would never be burnt The other disciples then only realized what a great person the king was and how he sincerely followed what he learnt.

Alwars in their hymns mention that their souls are melting and are tormented at the thought of any separation from the Lord. This may surprise us that how these great bhakthas can ever think of soul being melting down, when they know the eternity of souls? We should understand that the Alwars know the true nature of body and soul and it is only out of extreme devotion they mention that their souls are melted etc.

Now we shall see the 25th sloka:

avyakto ’yam acintyo ’yam
avikaryo ’yam ucyate
tasmad evam viditvainam
nanusocitum arhasi

"It is said that the soul is inexplicable, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body."

Here again, Sri Krishna tells the permanent nature of the soul and Arjuna should never have a doubt that he can ever harm the soul and so he should get ready to fight. Shatras say that there are three primary sources of knowledge. One is called prathyaksham or first hand knowledge. What we see or smell or hear is all first hand experience of an object. By these we recognize the object. The second source is by inference. Elsewhere we saw smoke when there was s a fire. So, whenever we see smoke, we conclude by our past experience, that there must be fire, even though we have not seen the fire. This is called Anumanam. Third source of knowledge is shabdam or ‘heard’. This is the Veda, which is learnt by hearing and reciting. Avyaktham means not explicit or hiding. The true nature of atman cannot be understood from these sources of knowledge. Atman is not subject to the prathyaksham as it is invisible, cannot be felt, cannot be heard and so on. Inference or anumanam also fails to distinguish atman. When a lamp is burning, the flame at the tip of the wick is constantly changing though for the eyes,only a single flame appears. The reducing oil and the burnt wick prove the sequence of one flame after another. This type of inference is impossible to understand atman Vedas also do not fully describe atman. We cannot imagine how atman will look like and so it is unthinkable. We have already seen that while body undergoes changes, atman is static and immutable.

So Sri Krishna encourages Arjuna to not to grieve over the body and start fighting.

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