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ASSOCIATES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VINOBA BHAVE > TALKS ON THE GITA > Distinction between the Self and the Not-Self
 

13. Distinction Between The Self And The Not-Self

67. Distinguishing Between The Body And The Self Helps Karmayoga

  1. Vyasa has poured into the Gita the essence of his life. He has written many voluminous works. The Mahabharata alone contains more than a hundred thousand verses. In fact, the word Vyasa has acquired the meaning of extensiveness’ in Sanskrit. But in the Gita, his inclination is not towards elaboration. Here he has only briefly stated, like Euclid has in his geometry, the principles useful for life. There are no long discussions in the Gita; brevity is its distinctive characteristic. It is so mainly because everybody can test for himself the veracity of the Gitas teaching in his life; and it is meant to be so tested. The Gita tells only those things which are useful for life. That being the object, Vyasa has contented himself with stating the principles concisely. It shows his firm faith in the power of truth and the possibility of its being directly experienced. That which is true does not need lengthy arguments to substantiate it.

  2. Our main reason in studying the Gita is that whenever we need help and guidance, we may get it from the Gita. Such help is always forthcoming. The Gita is a treatise that tells us how life is to be lived. That is why it lays stress on swadharma. Performance of swadharma is the foundation of human life. The whole edifice of life has to be erected over this foundation. Stronger the foundation, more enduring the edifice will be. It is the performance of swadharma that the Gita calls karma. Around this karma, the Gita has built its architectonics. It has fortified it with many vikarmas. To make the performance of swadharma meaningful and fruitful, it should be given all the necessary help and support that it needs. In this connection we have examined many things so far. Most of them belonged to the realm of bhakti. In the Thirteenth Chapter, we have to take a look at something extremely important to the performance of swadharma. It calls for discriminating reason.

  3. One who performs swadharma should give up the fruit of actions: it is the main thing that is emphasised everywhere in the Gita. One must act, but one must also renounce the fruit; one must water a plant and tend it with care, but should not expect for himself any return therefrom in the form of its shade, fruit or flower. This is what karmayoga in the form of performance of swadharma means. Karmayoga does not just mean doing karma. Karma is, in fact, going on everywhere in the world; there is no need to tell anybody that it should be done. It may be easy to say or even understand, but difficult to put into practice, that one should perform swadharma properly—not just any sort of karma—and renounce the fruit, as desire for fruit is considered to be the incentive for action. Action without desire for the fruit for oneself is against the prevalent current; it is diametrically opposite to what normally goes on in the world. We often say that a man doing a lot of work is a karmayogi. But it is an inaccurate use of language. This is not karmayoga as per the Gitas definition. You can hardly find a single karmayogi of the Gitas definition among the millions who work; he is rare even among the millions who perform swadharma. In fact, judging by the true and subtle meaning of karmayoga, a perfect karmayogi can hardly be found. To work and then to renounce its fruit is something most unusual. The Gita has elucidated this particular point so far.

  4. Another complementary point has been put forth in the Thirteenth Chapter. It is the distinction between the body and the Self. If we can make this distinction, it can help us in renouncing the fruit. We see something with the eyes and call it a form, a body or an image. But the eyes make us familiar with the outer form only; to get to know a thing fully we have to enter into its interior. We have to peel off the skin of a fruit to taste the pulp within. We have to break a coconut to get its soft kernel. A jackfruit too has a rough exterior but inside there is sweet and juicy pulp. We need to distinguish between the outer and the inner while looking at ourselves as well as at others. The outer cover is to be set aside. What does it mean?  It means that we should make a distinction between the outwardly visible form of anything and its inner essence. Everything has an outer body and an inner soul; just as we have a physical body outside and the soul or the Self within. This is true about karma as well. The fruit of the karma is like its outer body which should be discarded, and the purification of mind that results from it is its soul which should be cherished. We should inculcate the habit of making this distinction; we should acquire this penetrating insight. We should train and discipline the eyes, the mind and the reason through constant practice to achieve this purpose. Everywhere we should leave aside the body and adore the soul. The Thirteenth Chapter has explained this distinction for us to reflect over it.


68. The Basic Foundation Of Betterment

  1. It is extremely important to have the habit of looking at the essence of things. How nice would it be if this habit could be acquired in childhood itself!  This is an outlook which is worth imbibing. Many feel that the science of spirituality has nothing to do with life. Some others feel that even if it has, it should have nothing to do with it. But it would indeed be a happy situation if the distinction between the body and the soul could be ingrained through education right since childhood. Nowadays, bad education is imparting extremely evil samskaras. This education does not lift us out of our total identification with the body. We are doing everything to pamper the body. Yet the quality that the body should attain, the form that should be given to it, is found nowhere. The body is thus being vainly worshipped; there is no awareness of the bliss that lies in the experience of the Self. This condition has resulted from the present system of education. Day and night, indulgence of the body is being continually and insistently taught.

Education of cherishing the body begins right from childhood. When a child stumbles while playing and gets a little hurt, he hardly pays any heed to it. He takes ordinary bruises and abrasions in his stride. But it is not so with his parents. They draw the child near and fuss over it, saying, Oh dear!  Have you hurt yourself badly?  How did it happen?  Oh, it is bleeding!  Even if the child is not crying, all this fuss makes him cry. What can one say about it?  A child is told not to jump, not to play lest he should get bruised or hurt. He is thus trained solely to think of the body.

  1. When we fondly admire a child, we admire him in reference to the body and when we scold him, it too is in reference to the body. If a child has a running nose, we call him dirty. How greatly it hurts the child!  How false the accusation is!  It is true that the childs nose is dirty and it is also true that it should be cleaned. But instead of cleaning the nose without making a fuss about it, the child is reproached. He cannot bear this. He feels miserable. When his heart and soul are full of purity and cleanliness, why this wrong accusation of dirtiness?  The child is not really dirty; it is the Lord Himself in all His purity, beauty, love and holiness. It is a spark of the divine. Yet we call it dirty!  Is the outward dirtiness so important?  The child does not even understand what this is all about. He feels hurt. His mind gets disturbed and agitated; and such a state of mind stands in the way of improvement. We should therefore explain things properly and keep the child clean and tidy.

  2. Instead of this, we impress on the childs mind the idea that he is nothing but the body. It is an important pedagogical principle that the teacher should regard the pupil as faultless in every respect. If a pupil fails to solve a mathematical problem, the teacher slaps him. Now, what is the connection between the slap and the failure to solve a problem?  Likewise, the pupils are thrashed if they are late to the school. Yes, the slap may cause blood to circulate faster, but how will it help in making them punctual?  In fact, by such treatment, we only strengthen the animal in them. It hardens the pupils notion that he is nothing but the body. We thereby build his life on the foundation of fear. Real improvement can never be brought about through coercion and by strengthening identification with the body. It is possible only when one realises that one is distinct from the body.

  3. There is nothing wrong in being aware of the defects in the body and the mind. It helps in removing them. But one must understand clearly that one is not the body. My Self’ is altogether distinct from the body. It is wholly beautiful, faultless, pure, sublime and holy. The man who examines himself to remove the defects in him, does so by making a distinction between the Self and the body. He does not, therefore, get angry when someone points out his defects. Instead, he himself tries to find out whether there are any defects in his body and mind and tries to remove them. He who does not make this distinction can never improve himself. How can one improve himself if he identifies himself with the body, which is nothing but a lump of clay?  There can be improvement only when it is realised that the body is but an instrument given to us. Do I get angry if someone points out that something is wrong with my spinning wheel?  I rather try to remove the fault, if there is any. The same is true about the body too. It is like an agricultural implement, an implement to cultivate the Lords field. If it is impaired, it should be repaired. The body is here as a means. I should strive to purge myself of defects and faults by detaching myself from the body. I am distinct from the body, which is an instrument. I am the master, the owner of the body. I am one who gets good work done from the body. Such a discerning attitude should be inculcated right since childhood.

  4. Just as an impartial spectator can judge the game better, we can observe the merits and defects of the body, mind and intellect only when we detach ourselves from them. We hear somebody saying, My memory is getting feeble. What should I do about it?  When he says so, it clearly means that he is distinct from his memory; that the memory is an instrument or a tool that is not working properly. Somebody may lose a book or some other thing; he cannot lose himself. Even at the time of death, when the body becomes totally worn out and useless, the Self is as healthy and faultless as ever. This is a vital point to be clearly understood. If we could understand this, lot of our problems will be solved.


69. Attachment To The Body Wastes Life

  1. Identification with the body is prevalent everywhere. As a result, man has thoughtlessly devised all sorts of ways and means to cater to the body. Even a glance at them is disquieting. Man is always striving to somehow prolong the life of the body even after it has become old and decrepit. But how long can this body, this shell be sustained?  At most till death; not a moment longer. All the vanity is reduced to naught when death stares one in the face. Still man continues to produce various things for this worthless body; he ceaselessly worries about it. Nowadays, some people are even advocating meat-eating to sustain the body. In their view, human body is so precious that one may eat flesh without compunction to sustain it; animals’ bodies, on the other hand, have little value. But what, after all, is the ground for believing that the human body is more precious?  The only ground is that animals eat anything and think nothing beyond themselves unlike human beings, who take care of the creation around them. This very basis for considering human beings superior is undermined by meat-eating. Human beings are superior because they exercise self-control, because they care for other creatures. Man is superior because of this quality that is not found in the animals. That is why it is said to be a rare gift to be born as a human being. How can man be considered superior, if he undermines the very basis of his superiority? When man begins to eat flesh like other animals without any qualms, he undermines the foundation of his superiority. It is like cutting the branch of a tree on which one is sitting.

  2. Nowadays, medical science is performing all kinds of miracles. Germs are injected into the bodies of living animals, multiplied there and diseases produced there to watch their effects. Living animals are thus tortured and the knowledge gained is then used to prolong the life of this worthless body. All this goes on in the name of compassion and humanitarianism!  Inoculation is only one among the many horrid things invented by medical science. But the body for whose sake all this is done is as fragile as glass. It can break at any moment. All these efforts are being made to sustain the body; but what is the outcome?  Even as we are trying to sustain this fragile body, we see that it goes on disintegrating. Yet we keep trying to pamper the body.

  3. It never occurs to us to find out the kind of food that would make the mind and intellect sattvik. Man never considers what should be done and whose help should be sought to purify the mind and the intellect. All that he is anxious for is to make the body plump, to increase layers of flesh thereon. But these layers are bound to peel off in course of time. Then what is the use of letting the fat accumulate in the body till it becomes a burden and an encumbrance?   The body is an instrument at our disposal and we should certainly do whatever is necessary to keep it in order. We take work from a machine, but do we identify ourselves with it?  Why cannot one have the same attitude towards the body-machine?

  4. To sum up, the body is a means and not an end. Once this is deeply realised, man will not make much ado about nothing. Life will then appear markedly different. Man would not then revel in decorating the body. Indeed an ordinary cloth is sufficient to cover the body. But we want the cloth to be soft; we want various designs on it. For the sake of this, we make a number of people labour. What is all this for?  Does not God, the Creator, know His job?  Had the human body needed designs or colours on it, would not God have designed stripes on the human body, as He has done for the tiger?  Would He not have given plummage to human beings like the peacock? Was it impossible for Him?  But He has thought otherwise. Man, as he is, is beautiful. God does not want his body to be decorated. Is not there marvellous beauty in nature?  Man should be content in beholding it. But he has been deluded by artificialities. We accuse Germany of driving natural Indian dyes out of the market. Dear friend, you first lost your real colour—your true nature—and got enamoured by artificial dyes. As a result, you became dependent on others. You have been lured by the superfluous idea of decorating the body and that has led you astray. You should be concerned about making the mind and the heart pure and beautiful, about developing the intellect; but that has been lost sight of.


70. ‘You Are That’

  1. Therefore, the idea that the Lord is putting forth in the Thirteenth Chapter is extremely valuable: You are not the body, you are the Self (Tat tvam asi). This thought, this saying is most noble, sublime and holy. We find this idea everywhere in Sanskrit literature: You are not the outer cover; you are the pure, indestructible kernel within. The moment a man realises that he is That—the Supreme Self—and not the body, a new kind of joy that has never been experienced before will surge up in the mind. Nothing in the world can destroy, nothing is capable of destroying the Self. This subtle thought is implied in this saying.

  2. I am the Self—the imperishable, unsullied element transcending the body. I have been given this body for the sake of the Self. Whenever there is likelihood of that divine element getting sullied, I shall discard the body to prevent that happening. I shall ever be ready to keep the divine flame glowing. I have not come into the world riding this body to demean and humiliate myself. I must have control over the body. I shall use it for the well-being of all. आनंदें भरीन तिन्ही लोक   (I shall fill the universe with bliss.) I shall sacrifice the body at the altar of that great element and acclaim the glory of the Lord. A rich man throws away clothes the moment they are soiled and puts on new ones. I shall treat the body in the same way. The body is needed for work. When it becomes useless for the purpose, I would not hesitate to throw it away.

  3. This is what we are learning from satyagraha. The body and the Self are separate entities. The day a man realises this truth and its significance, his true education and true development begin. It is only then that he will be able to offer satyagraha successfully. Therefore each one of us should imbibe this spirit in our hearts. The body just happens to be a means; it is only an instrument given to us by the Lord. It is to be discarded the moment it ceases to be of any use. We put away our winter wear in the summer; we put away the quilts used during the night when the day breaks. That is what should be done with the body. It is to be preserved as long as it is useful and flung aside when its utility is over. The Lord is hereby showing us the way for spiritual development.


71. An End To The Power Of The Tyrants

  1. As long as we do not realise that we are distinct from the body, tyrants will continue to torment and enslave and torture us. It is fear that makes tyranny possible. There is a story of a demon who had captured a man. He would make him work round the clock. If he paused a little, the demon would threaten him, I shall kill and devour you.’ The frightened man would then submit meekly. But when the man could stand it no longer, he said, All right, if you want to kill and eat me up, do so by all means.  But was the demon going to eat him up?  What he wanted was a submissive servant. Who would do the work if the man were killed?  The demon used to threaten the man with death; but the moment the man said, Well, you may eat me up, tyranny stopped. Tyrants know that people have intense attachment to their bodies; so if you inflict pain on their bodies, they submit and become your slave. Give up that attachment and you will be sovereign. You will be free. You will be all-powerful. Nobody can then exercise authority over you. The very basis of tyranny breaks down. The power of the tyrants hinges on your identification with the body. They threaten and intimidate you because they think that if they inflict pain on your bodies, you would submit.

  2. When I feel that I am the body’, others are induced to persecute and torment me. But look at Cranmer, the British martyr. When he was going to be burnt at the stakes, he said, If you would burn me, by all means, do. Here, burn this right hand first, for this hand hath offended.  In the same vein, Latimer said, Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by Gods grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out.  Their task was to burn the candle of the body to spread the light of truth. The body is, after all, going to perish one day.

  3. When Socrates was sentenced to death by poison, he said, I am old. This body would anyway have disintegrated soon. What is so great in putting to death that which is mortal?  I fail to understand what is so great in killing a mortal being.  The night before he was to drink hemlock, he was explaining to his pupils the immortality of the soul. He was merrily describing the pain he would feel with the spread of poison in the body. When the discussion on the immortality of the soul was over, a pupil asked, Sir, how should we bury you after your death?  Socrates exclaimed, How clever you are!  Is it that they will kill me and you will bury me?  Is it that the killers are my enemies and you are a friend?  They will kill me in their wisdom and you will bury me in your wisdom!  Who are you, after all, to bury me?  I shall be there even when all of you are dead and buried in your graves. Nobody can kill me, nobody can bury me. What, after all, have I been explaining all along?  The Self is immortal. Who can kill it or bury it?  And the great Socrates has indeed outlived all of them; he is remembered even after more than two thousand years.


72. Faith In The Power Of The Supreme Self

  1. To sum up, as long as there is attachment to the body, as long as there is fear, a sense of insecurity would continue to haunt you. Would not a snake bite me in bed, would not a thief come and attack me?—Fears like these would not let you sleep even if you shut your eyes. You sleep with a staff near the bed to use it against the thieves if they come. But can a thief not use the same staff to hit you?  You are making the staff readily available to him in case he has forgotten to bring one with him!  After all, whom are you relying upon when you sleep?  During sleep, you are totally dependent on others for protection. It is only when you are awake that the question of your protecting yourself arises. Who protects you when you are asleep?

  2. We go to sleep trusting some power; the same power which all the animals trust when they sleep. Even the tiger goes to sleep. The lion, which has enmity with the whole world and which, therefore, constantly looks back with suspicion and apprehension while walking, also goes to sleep. Had there been no faith in that power, the lions would have had to evolve an arrangement of having a few of them keeping vigil while others sleep!  We too go to sleep in the lap of that all-pervading power, relying on which savage tigers, lions and wolves also sleep. A child sleeps in its mothers lap happily and confidently. At that time, it is as if the master of the world. We too must learn to sleep in the lap of the Lord, the all-sustaining Mother, with love and trust and the knowledge that we are safe there. We should make ourselves more and more familiar with the power which sustains the whole of our life. We should feel the presence of that power more and more. The more we are convinced of its presence, the more shall we be secure. The more we experience that power, the more shall we grow. The Thirteenth Chapter gives some indication of the steps needed to be taken in this direction.


73. Progressive Realisation Of The Supreme Self

  1. Man is absorbed in ordinary worldly activities as long as there is no thought of the Self within the body. He knows little else than eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, sleeping when drowsy. To be able to do all these things he will fight. He will crave for them. He is engrossed only in bodily activities. True development is yet to commence. The Self only watches all this. It stands silently like a mother keeping a watchful eye on her child crawling towards the well. It just looks at all the activities silently. This state has been described as that of a Witness.

  2. The Self watches, but does not gives its assent. The jiva (individual soul), acting under the impression that it was nothing but the body, subsequently wakes up. It dawns on it that it has been living like an animal. When the jiva comes to this point, the realm of ethics begins. Then the question whether something is right or wrong, moral or immoral crops up at every step. At this stage, man starts exercising rational discrimination. His analytical mind starts working. Impulsive actions cease. Self-restraint takes the place of self-indulgence.

  3. When the jiva ascends to this moral plane, the Self does not remain a silent spectator. It gives its approval from within. A voice is heard from within: Well done!’  The Self now no longer remains a mere witness. It gives its assent; it upholds the jiva’s actions and expresses appreciation.

Suppose a hungry man comes to your door when you have just sat down to eat and you give your plate of food to him. When you remember this good act in the night, you will experience a different kind of joy. The Self will say softly, You have indeed acted well!  When a mother pats her child on the back and says, Well done, my boy!, he feels that he has got the highest possible reward. Likewise, such words from the Lord within encourage us and provide us with an impetus to do better. The jiva at this stage stands on the moral plane, leaving the life of self-indulgence behind.

  1. Then comes the next stage. Man tries to cleanse his mind in the course of doing duties while living a moral life. He strives hard, but gets exhausted at some point. The jiva then prays to the Lord, Oh Lord!  I have come to the end of my tether. Give me more strength.  Until a man realises that he cannot succeed by his own efforts, however hard, the true significance of prayer does not dawn on him. One should first exhaust all his strength and when it is found insufficient, cry earnestly for the Lords help, as Draupadi did.1 The eternal spring of the Lords grace and compassion is ever-flowing. Whosoever is thirsty can come to it and quench his thirst as a matter of right. Whosoever lacks anything can ask for it. Such is the relationship in this third stage. The Lord now comes closer. He not only expresses His approval by words, but also rushes for help.

  2. At first, the Lord was standing at a distance. The teacher asks the pupil to solve a problem and then stands at a distance and watches. Likewise, the Lord lets the jiva grapple with the problems when it is immersed in the life of self-indulgence. The jiva thereafter ascends to the moral plane. Now the Lord can no longer remain neutral. Finding the jiva doing good deeds, He approves them and compliments the jiva. When the good deeds cleanse the mind of gross impurities and time comes for the removal of subtle impurities, human efforts prove to be inadequate. Then we beseech the Lord and He responds. He rushes to help us. Whenever the bhakta begins to lose heart, He is there ready to help. The sun is ever waiting at your door. But it would not forcibly open the door and barge into the room. It would not even knock on the door. Its job is to serve and it behaves accordingly. But the moment you begin to open the door, it will come in with all its rays and dispel darkness. The Lord acts likewise. The moment you call Him for help, He will rush to you with His arms outstretched. Tukaram has said, उभारोनि बाहे  ।  विठो पालवीत आहे   (With outstretched hands, the Lord Pandurang is calling you.) If the nostrils are open, air is bound to come in. If the door is open, light is bound to come in. But I find even these examples unsatisfactory. The Lord is nearer to us, He is more eager to come in. So He does not remain content in being a Witness or a Permitter, He becomes a Supporter—one who helps and supports wholeheartedly. When we find ourselves unable to purify the mind completely, we make impassioned pleas, we cry helplessly, मारी नाड तमारे हाथे प्रभु संभगळजो रे, (I am wholly in your hands; O Lord, take care of me.), we pray, तु ही एक नेरा मददगार है, तेरा आसरा मुझको दरकार है (You are the only one to help me. I need Your support). Will the Lord, who is all compassion, then stand aloof?  He will rush to help His devotees, to provide whatever they lack. It is out of such compassion that He helped Rohidas in tanning leather, Sajan the butcher in selling meat, Kabir in weaving cloth, Janabai in grinding corn.

  3. The next stage is to dedicate to the Lord the fruit of actions which we have received by His grace, instead of taking it ourselves. The jiva then says to the Lord, This fruit belongs to you; take it. Namdeva insistently urged the Lord to drink the milk that he had offered. This is an extremely adorable sentiment. Namdeva is offering to the Lord the fruit of his actions in the form of the milk. Whatever you have achieved and acquired is because of His grace and is, therefore, to be dedicated to Him. When Dharmaraj was about to set foot in the heaven, the dog accompanying him was stopped at the gate. Dharmaraj then instantly renounced the privilege of entering the heaven that he had become entitled to as a result of the merits acquired in life. A bhakta also offers to the Lord the fruit of his actions readily and instantaneously. The Lord who appeared as the Witness, the Permitter and the Supporter, now becomes the Experiencer. The jiva now ascends to a stage wherein the Supreme Lord Himself becomes the enjoyer of the fruit within the body.

  4. Hereafter, making resolves (sankalp) should also be given up. There are three stages in any work. First, we make a resolve, then we act and finally we receive the fruit of the actions. We act with His help and dedicate the fruit to Him. Our standpoint is that it is the Lord who acts and it is He who enjoys the fruit. Now let Him be one to make resolve. Let Him be there in the work throughout all its stages. Jnanadeva has said,

माळीयें जेउतें नेलें   तेउतें निवांत चि गेलें

तया पाणिया ऐसें केलें । होआवें गा

(The water flows without demur, as directed by the gardener. One should become like it.—That is, one should let his life be guided by the Lord.) The water nourishes the plants and the trees of the gardener’s liking. In the same way, let the Lord decide what actions should take place through me. Let me entrust to Him all the responsibility for all the resolves of my mind. When I am riding a horse, making it carry all my weight, what is the point in carrying my baggage on my head?  Let that burden also be placed on the horses back as, anyway, the horse is going to bear all the weight, whether I keep the load on my head or on the horse’s back. Thus the Lord eventually becomes one who moves my life and makes it blossom. My life is then completely in His hands and He does with it what He likes. He thus becomes Maheshwar(the Supreme Lord) who holds the reins of my life. Progressing in this way, the whole life becomes saturated with His presence. Only the body then remains as a curtain separating me from Him. When that is removed, jiva and Shiva (God), atman and paramatman (Self and the Supreme Self) become one.

  1. Thus we have to realise God progressively as the Witness, the Permitter, the Supporter, the Experiencer, and finally as the Supreme Lord. उपद्रष्टाsनुमन्ता च भर्ता भोक्ता महेश्वरः   To recapitulate, the Lord is at first a silent spectator. He encourages us when we ascend to the moral plane and start doing good deeds. When our efforts are found inadequate to remove subtle impurities in our minds and and we pray to Him, He rushes to help us. We should then dedicate the fruit of our actions to Him and let Him be the enjoyer thereof. And finally, we should surrender to Him the right to make resolves, and let our whole life be suffused with Him. This is mans ultimate goal. A seeker is to reach this goal soaring on the two wings of karmayoga and bhaktiyoga.


74. Basic Means For Knowledge: Freedom From Pride, Deceit etc.

  1. To achieve all this, the firm foundation of moral sadhana is a sine qua non. We should discern between truth and untruth and follow truth. We should discern between the essential and the non-essential and stick to the essential. We should throw away the shell and keep the pearl. This is how we should begin our quest. We should proceed further through our own efforts as well as Gods grace. If we have learnt to make the distinction between body and soul, it will be immensely useful. In this context, I am reminded of Jesus crucifixion. While he was being crucified, words came to his lips, O God!  Why are they tormenting me?  But he immediately collected himself and said, Thy will be done, Lord. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. This example of Christ has a profound significance. It shows the extent to which the Self should be dissociated from the body. Christs life shows how far we should and could progress. Here, a point has been reached where the body has dropped down like a shell. Whenever I think of disengaging the soul from the body, Christs life stands before my eyes as a perfect example. It shows how there could be complete dissociation from the body, how the link with the body could be almost severed.

  2. Without the power to discern between truth and untruth, we cannot distinguish between the body and the Self. This discrimination, this knowledge should become a part of our being. We associate jnana (knowledge) with knowing, but knowing through reason only does not lead to true knowledge. Eating does not just mean stuffing the mouth with food. Food should be properly chewed and it should get digested and converted into blood running through the veins. Only then the action of eating is complete in the true sense. Likewise, intellectual understanding is not enough; knowledge should be fully assimilated; it should become a part of our being and should get reflected through every action of ours. We should reach the state when all the organs of action and perception work with full consciousness. The Lord has therefore given a beautiful definition of knowledge (Jnana) in the Thirteenth Chapter. The attributes of knowledge are similar to those of sthitaprajna. The Lord has enumerated twenty attributes including humility, freedom from deceit, non-violence, uprightness and forgiveness. The Lord has not only declared that these attributes constitute knowledge; He has also said that whatever is opposite of these constitutes ignorance. Knowledge means the sadhana done in its pursuit. Socrates used to say, Virtue is knowledge. The end and the means are identical.

  3. Although the Gita mentions twenty attributes (which are also means) Jnanadeva has reduced them to eighteen. He has written on them with a rare earnestness. The Gita contains only five verses listing these attributes, but Jnanadeva has written seven hundred verses on them. He was eager that these attributes should permeate the society and the glory of the Lord as Truth should shine throughout the society. He has put all his experience in the elucidation of these attributes. Marathi-speaking people will always be indebted to Jnanadeva for this. He was a personification of these attributes. His empathy for all the creatures was so great that when a buffalo was whipped, marks of the lashes were seen on Jnanadevas back. Jnaneshwari, his commentary on the Gita, emerged out of such compassionate heart. Jnanadevas elucidation of these attributes should be read, reflected upon and assimilated. I consider myself fortunate for having got an opportunity to read Jnanadevas beautiful language in the original. I would consider myself blessed if I could get another birth so that I could again have that sweet language on my lips. The essence of this is that all of us should go on rising higher and higher, dissociating body from the Self and trying to make the life divine, to fill our being with God.

(15.5.32)


References:

  1. Draupadi cried for Lord Krishna's help when Dushshasan tried to disrobe her in the Kaurava court.  The Lord thereupon supplied her with innumerable garments.