Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Sri Alavandar, a great Acharya, has composed a collection called Githartha Sngraha, with 32 slokas. He was the grandson of another great Acharya Sri Nathamuni. With the blessings of Alavandar, Sri Ramanuja became a very great Acharya. We are today at the padithurai or bathing ghat named after Alavandar. Yesterday we were at Thirumangai Alwar Padithurai. Near this Alavandar Padithurai, a number of Brindavanams of various Acharyas are located. Brindavanam is the place where after the Acharya breathes his last, the mortal coil is buried. A number of sanyasins and jeers, who lived the last days in Srirangam, are all buried in this place. The Brindavanam of a great Acharya, of great repute Srimad Paramahamsedyati Desika Varadacharya Swamy, who contributed to many sacred works in Srirangam like the golden cover for the [pranavakara] vimanam [dome] and golden gloves for the Abhaya Hastham [Protective Palm] of Sri Ranganatha, and who lived long ago, is also here. From such a sacred place we will see the 28th sloka of 2nd chapter of Gita.

avyaktadini bhutani
vyakta-madhyani bharata
avyakta-nidhanany eva
tatra ka paridevana

"The [fieve elements made] body is not capable of revealing the past [but] middle [present] revealed. Future not revealed, Oh! Bharatha, where is then need for grief?"

All the three, 26th, 27th and 28th, slokas are based on anuvadam, where Sri Krishna, for the sake of arguments, agreeing with the notion that atman and body are same. Let us consider a mud pot. If we break we get chunks and on further breaking we get mud. There are thus three stages of existence: pot, chunk and mud. The destruction of pot yields chunk and the destruction of chunk yields mud. So, one substance's destruction is the creation of another. When a mother gives birth to a child, something else should have been destroyed, what is it? The mother is alive, but the childless attribute of that mother is destroyed. The childless property ceases and childbearing mother property begins. This type of one thing ceasing and another getting created makes this world with changing nature. Here we shall see a small teaser. We have pot. Pot’s destruction = chunk. Chunk’s destruction = mud. Therefore, destruction of pot’s destruction = mud! Normally, two negatives make a positive and by this logic the destruction of destruction should yield construction or creation. So, in the above last equation we should have got back the pot but we get mud. Therefore, we should realize that destruction of pot yields chunk and destruction of pot yields mud also. Similarly, mud only forms chunk and same mud only forms pot. Changes are thus yielding new products. Arjuna raises a doubt. We are told not to worry at the destroying of one, like the pot becoming mud. But, the pot was useful to carry water and so how one can stop worrying at the loss of the pot, and hence this body? What is wrong in lamenting that the body, which is useful now, is perished? Sri Krishna again denies this argument of Arjuna. No doubt, when pot is broken, its utility is gone and there is reason to worry. But in the case of atman, when it leaves one body, it is going to take another body and, perhaps, that body may be more useful. Where, then, is the necessity to lament? Arjuna says that the past and future are unknown and here the 28th sloka emerges. The body, made of the five elements, does not have the capacity to reveal the past. But the present is revealed. So this body does not know what it was before this body was born. Some may disagree and question why should it be assumed that this body existed in the past. This was answered in the last lecture that nothing can be created anew. No substance can be formed from nothing and only the existing things undergo changes and show as new ones. So, now we do not know what our body was in the time before this birth of us. But we are sure that our bodies existed even earlier. Similarly, after this body perishes also we do not know what the new one will be. Considering past, present and future, only the middle one, present, is revealed. Therefore, no need to worry. Now, Arjuna raises a series of doubts and Sri Krishna answers each of them. It is agreed that this body has three stages of existence: past, future and present. Arjuna asks which of these is natural? The answer could be either the present known body is natural or the unrevealed past and future is natural. Either way there is nothing to worry. Let us consider the assumption that the unrevealed past and future is natural. Everyone wants to be in his natural form only. If one does makeup for a drama or show, one would like to come back to the natural self only and will not like to continue with that makeup forever. A bird in a cage will desire to fly out of the cage and be natural. Therefore, the present status of atman in this body is unnatural and should desire to go to the natural state, which is the new body going to accommodate this atman in the future. That means, one should not worry about loss of the present body. Let us see the alternative. The present status is natural. Arjuna is worried that this natural status will be lost. Sri Krishna puts a counter argument. Any change in a natural status is caused by an external one. When we experience pain, it is due to something hurting. If that something disappears, the pain is lost and we are natural. Thus any artificial status has to cease and return back to normal or natural status. So if according to this assumption also, if the present is natural and future is artificial, the future artificiality will end and return to natural. This way also there is no reason to grieve. Arjuna has the next doubt. He is worried this atman is in this body. Some have worries for everything. Here Arjuna is worried that this soul is in this body. Sri Krishna says in that case you have to worry all 24 hours, 7 days a week and only sorrow will remain and there will be no time for happiness. Now Arjuna concedes that now and then one has to be happy, but he is worried that even that small happiness would be lost. If that was his worry, Sri Krishna advises Arjuna that he should ensure the happiness to continue. Only when he regains the kingdom, he can live happily. So he should fight if he did not want his happiness to be taken away. Arjuna again comes with another reason for his grievance. In the war he would kill his relatives. Sri Krishna says that in that case he should worry about his closer relatives like his brothers. If he did not fight, he has to lose his brothers. Arjuna now says that he wants to enjoy life and be happy. So why fight with others? Sri Krishna with a smile says that in that case, it is all more the reason, Arjuna should fight. Otherwise, opponents will kill him. Thus what is the use in worrying about the unknown? We never worry ourselves about what has not been revealed to us. So, when past and future are unknown, there is no reason for Arjuna to worry.

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