Re: Gita and vedantic philosophy question
Subject: Re: Gita and vedantic philosophy question
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Manish Tandon)
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 21:16:30 GMT
Organization: Cadence Design Systems, Inc.
email@example.com (Pranob Banerjee) wrote:
|> If we accept Gita to be one of the authorities upon which these philosophies
|> are based then I would like to invite your comments on the following shlokas.
|> I would be interested in knowing how would you interpret (not translation)
|> these shlokas from your philosophical point of view:
I will comment on some, 10.8 and 18.66 (are my personal favourites) and
7.7 (has some potential for abuse by the advaitans).
The philosophical background is 'acintya bhedabheda tattva' -- the truth of
simultaneous oneness and difference, of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
|> matah parataram na anyat kinchit asti dhananjaya
|> mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani gana iva
"O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything
rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread."
It can be said that since Krishna/God is in everything, He would not have a
seperate existence, i.e. non-duality on the absolute level. But that argument
does not hold, and here is why,
9.4 "By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded.
All beings are in Me, but I am not in them."
9.5 "And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My
mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities
and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic
manifestation, for My self is the very source of creation."
Another important point is the distinction between the concept of God as
Supreme Person vs. Absolute truth. More often that not, people tend to think
of God as the Supreme person, esp. in the western religions, where God is
the creator who after the creation, acquires the position of a passive
observer. The idea of Supreme person can also be misleading in the esoteric
sense. This was expounded upon by HH Hridayananda Das goswami, a senior
ISKCON preacher pursuing Ph.D. in sanskrit and religion at Harvard, who is
also a renowned philosopher. His point was that we can, for example, attach the
label of supreme person to someone like the President/Prime Minister in some
limited sense, however, when we say God is Absolute Truth, that means that
He truely encompasses everything, "aham sarvasya prabhvo mattah sarvam
Srila Prabhupada has also quoted the Svetasvatra Upanisad, 3.8-9 in his purport
for this verse which you can refer to.
|> aham sarvasya prabhvo mattah sarvam pravartate
|> iti matva bhajamtemam budha bhava samanvita
The important point here is that "budha -- the learned" actually engage in
worship, i.e. the culmination of all yoga-systems including jnana-yoga is
In another place, Lord Krishna says, "Of all the people who surrender to Me,
the one who is in full knowledge is the best. This is My opinion."
Therefore Krishna Himself affirms faith in knowledge over blind faith, the
reason being that a person with blind faith can be swayed. An interesting
argument that is raised against this is that the gopis of Vrindavana were
just simple village woman, probably even illiterate, so how is it that they
are considered the best of the devotees?
One plausible answer is given in the itihas and some consider it mythology.
During the advent of Lord Ramachandra, all the wise sages told Him that even
though they have had His association, they don't feel satisfied. So they asked
Lord Rama for a more intimate relationship in His passtimes and He said so
be it! So it was the great learned sages of treta-yuga who appeared as gopis
with Lord Krishna in dvapur (hope I didn't have yugas the other way).
|> sarvadharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja
|> aham tvam sarva papebhyaha mokshyami ma sucham
The question of what 'dharma' really is, i.e. does "religion" completely
defines "dharma", was raised either here or on s.r.e. recently.
For this particular verse, I personally like to see dharma in a broader
sense than religion, or rather encompassing various 'dharmas'. Within
Indian culture, people tend to view responsibilities towards family, society,
etc. also as dharmas (pitra-dharma, janma-bhumi dharma ...)
So here I like to understand that Lord Krishna is telling one to renounce
'sarvadharma', which would include not only dharma as defined by relligion,
but all the material responsibilities/activities/relationships etc.
|> bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yaschasmi tatvatah
|> tatomam tatvato ghanatva vishate tad antaram
This is a good one to show to the agnostics/atheists who say "show me God".
Those fools don't understand why would God even bother to try to prove to
them that He does exists or who He is.
Also Krishna tells in the 9 chapter, "those who do not surrender to Me, I cast
them into the perpetual cycle of birth and death."
|> --Pranob Banerjee
|> Department of Chemical Engineering, U of A, Edmonton, Canada.
All translations are from the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, by Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabupada, with probably some random noise added due to the stochastic nature
of the access mechanism of my memory, but since this is uniformaly distributed,
it may not be noticeable :)