SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM – SKANDHA XI. CHAP. 10.
Sri Krishna continued: —
(Self-study is the first stage. It leads to the power of discrimination. Without self study no progress is possible. Therefore Sri Krishna speaks of it as an essential condition. He then goes on to the next stage of preparation.)
“Subject to what I have said as to one’s own duties (in Pancha Râtra and other Vaishnava works; Sridhara) and knowing me to be the final resort, you should dispassionately follow the Varna-Âsrama and family duties. (But how is dispassion possible?) With the mind purified by the performance of duties, reflect on this that worldly men take up things, thinking them to be real but the end shews that they are not so.
“Objects of desire are unreal, as their perception as separate entities is caused by the senses and they are altogether sense-made. Even they are as unreal as dreams and fancy, both caused by the mind.”
(Actions are fourfold, (1) those that have the fulfilment of selfish desires for their object or Kâmya Karma, (2) those that are prohibited by the Scriptures or Nishiddha Karma, (3) those that are required to be daily performed or Nityâ Karma, (4) those that are required to be performed on certain occasions or Naimittika.
The first two are Pravritta or selfish Karma. The last two are Nivritta or unselfish Karma. The Smritis say that those who want Moksha or liberation must not perform Pravritta Karma. But they should perform Nitya and Naimittika Karma, as their non-performance might give rise to obstacles.) Perform Nivritta Karma and being devoted to Me, give up all Pravritta Karma. But when you fully enter the path of wisdom, then you need not care much even for Nivritta Karma. Constantly practise Yâma. Being fixed on Me, you may sometimes practise Niyama (Yâma and Niyama are detailed in the 19th chapter.)
“Devotedly follow one Guru, who knows Me and is full of Me, being calm and quiet at heart.
“Be humble and unenvious, active, free from the sense of “Mineness”, strong in friendship (towards the Guru. Śridhara) not over-zealous, eager to know the truths and free from malice. Do not indulge in idle talk. Be indifferent to wife, son, house, land, relations, riches and all other things, for Âtmâ is the same every where and its working is the same in all bodies.
“This Âtmâ is neither the gross body nor the subtle body. It is the self illumined seer. Fire that illuminates and burns is separate from the fuel that is illuminated and burnt.
“The fuel has beginning and end. It is big and small. It is of various kinds. The fire that pervades it is limited by the nature of the fuel. So Âtmâ which is separate from the body bears the attributes of the body.
“The birth and re-birth of the Jiva have their origin in the gross and the subtle body, which are the outcome of the Gunas, subordinated by Ísvara. The knowledge of Âtmâ (as separate from the body) cuts off the course of rebirths.
“Therefore by seeking after knowledge fully realise that Âtmâ in self is separate and is beyond the body. Then by degrees do away with a sense of reality in respect of the gross and the subtle body.
“The preceptor is the lower piece of wood used for kindling the sacred fire. The pupil is the upper piece of wood. The teachings form the middle portion of the wood where the stroke is made. Vidyâ is the pleasing fire that comes out. (The pupil by constant questioning should extract the fire of wisdom from the Guru i.e. one should learn Âtmâ Vidyâ from his Guru.)
“The pure wisdom that is thus acquired from the Guru shakes off the Mâyâ that is begotten of the Gunas. It burns up the Gunas themselves, which constitute this universe of re-incarnation and then it ceases of itself. The fire consumes the fuel first and then it is extinguished of itself.
“Or if you think that the doers of actions, their pleasures and pains, the enjoyers and sufferers (Jivâtmas or Egos) are many and that the place and time of enjoyment and suffering, and the scriptures relating thereto and to the enjoyer or sufferer are all alike not constant.”
(We have found in the former slokas that Âtmâ is one and constant. It is self manifest and it is conciousness itself. When we speak of Âtmâ as the Doer, the Enjoyer and so on these attributes really relate to the body which forms the phenomenal basis of Âtmâ. Every thing else besides Âtmâ is transitory and formed of Mâyâ. It has been therefore said that one should free himself from all attachments and should attain liberation by the knowledge of Âtmâ. This is the conclusion arrived at by a reconciliation of all the Srutis. But there is another school, that of Jaimini, which arrives at a different conclusion. To remove all doubts whatsoever, the author refers to it for the sake of refutation. The followers of Jaimini deem Jivâtmas — the doers and enjoyers in all beings to be essentially separate and many. According to them, Âtmâ is known by the feeling of “I-ness.” Now this feeling is different in different bodies. “I am the doer” “I am the enjoyer” every one feels this separately for himself. There is no one Parmâtmâ, which is the essence of all these Jivâtmas and which is above all transformations. Therefore freedom from attachments or dispassion is not possible. You may think, that the enjoyments are transitory, and so also that the time and place of enjoyment, the scriptures that enjoin them, and the enjoying Âtmâ itself are not constant. Hence you may justify dispassion. But all this is not a fact. This is the argument of the followers of Jaimini. Śridhara.)
“And if you consider that all substances are constant by the eternal flow of their existence and that consciousness grows and is separate according to the difference in every particular form.” (According to the followers of Jaimini there is no break in the objects of enjoyment nor are they formed of Mâyâ. All substances perpetually exist by the constancy of their flow. They say that there was no time, when the Universe was not what it is. Therefore there is no maker of the Universe, no Íshvara. And the Universe is not a delusion — Mâyâ. It is what it appears to be. There is no one and constant consciousness of which the essence is Âtmâ. “This pot” “this cloth” — Our consciousness grows by the process of perceiving these differences. Therefore consciousness is not constant and it has separate forms. The hidden purport is this. Âtmâ is not absolute consciousness itself, but it is transformed into consciousness. But you can not say, because it is subject to transformation, therefore it is transient. For it has been said authoritatively that its transformation into consciousness does not interfere with its eternity. Therefore for the purpose of liberation (Mukti), Âtmâ can not transform itself without the help of the senses &c. And if Âtmâ attains liberation, in the state of jada (or unconsciousness) nothing is gained. Therefore the best path to follow is that of Pravritti or Inclination and not that of Nivritti or Disinclination. Śridhara. The above commentaries of Śridhara form one of the best expositions of the philosophy of Jaimini. Only the last passage requires a little elucidation. Âtmâ in itself is not consciousness. Its transformation into consciousness is its highest evolution or Mukti. Now this transformation is caused by the perception of objects, it is made complete by the perception of all objects and it is made constant by a constant desire for all objects. This object, or that object may vanish, this man or that woman may die, this flower or that flower may perish, but there is no time when the objects as a class do not exist, when there is no enjoyer, no object to be enjoyed. So there is a constancy in the desires. Therefore one must form attachments, have desires, that Âtmâ be made fully conscious. But if Âtmâ be left to itself, it will remain Jada or unconscious. There is nothing to be gained by this. Therefore one should persistently follow the path of desires as laid down in the Karma Kânda of the Vedas, analysed by Jaimini in his Pûrva Mimânsâ. One should not give up Vedic Karma and selfish desires as he is taught to do in the Jnâna Kânda of the Vedas, the Upanishads, as analysed by Vyâsa in his Uttara Mimânsâ, and as expounded by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavat Gitâ. It must be remembered that this philosophy of Karma, so effectually refuted by Sri Krishna, was suited to the materialistic cycle of evolution, when Rajas had to be sought rather than put down. The minerals and vegetables were unconscious. The animals shewed a slight development in consciousness. But the full development was in Man. And this was due to the pursuit of the Path of Inclination or Pravritti Mârga up to a late period in the past history of the Universe. Notwithstanding the attacks of Sri Krishna, the school of Jaimini had its followers till the time of Srî Sankarâchârya, when Mandana Misra the most learned Pandit of the time, was its chief exponent. After his memorable defeat by Srî Sankarâchârya the Mimânsâkas fell into disrepute and Vedic Karma became a thing of the past.)
“Granting all that, O dear Uddhava, all Âtmâs have constantly their births and other states, by connection with the body and by reason of the divisions of time.” (i.e. though you may say that Âtmâ itself is transformed, still you can not deny that the transformations take place by its connection with the body and that they are brought about by time.)
“It follows then that the doer of actions, the enjoyer of joys and the sufferer of sorrows is dependent on other things.” (For Âtmâ is dependent upon the body and upon time for its highest transformation. Śridhara says if Âtmâ is the doer and enjoyer, why should it do wrong acts and suffer sorrows if it were independent. Therefore Âtmâ must be dependent according to the Mimânsâkas). Now who in seeking his greatest good would worship one that is dependent on others?
“(Do not say that those who know Vedic karma thoroughly are always happy and only those that do not know that are unhappy. For it is found that — Śridhara) even wise men sometimes have no happiness and the ignorant have no misery. Therefore it is mere vanity (to speak about Karma). Even if (the followers of the path of Pravritti) know how to gain happiness and destroy misery, they certainly do not know the means by which they can get over death. And when death is near at hand, what objects of desire can give joy? What can please the victim that is carried to the place of sacrifice? (This is so far as this life is concerned. Then as to life after death). What you hear about Svarga life, even that is as bad as the life we lead on this earth. For in Svarga, there is jealousy, there is fault finding, there are inequalities and consequent uneasiness, and there is a finality in the enjoyments and the desires are full of obstacles, even as agriculture is and so after all even Svarga is of no good. When the Vedic Karma is properly performed without any obstacle whatsoever, hear how the performer of Karma loses the place acquired by his Karma. He makes offerings to Indra and other Devas by the performance of Yajna and he goes after death to Svarga. There he enjoys heavenly objects like the Devas, objects acquired by his own Karma. He moves in white chariots the acquisitions of his own merits, among Deva girls and is adored; by the Gandharvas. The chariot moves at his will. It is adorned by small bells. He whiles away his time with the Deva girls in the gardens of Svarga and he does not know his own fall. But he remains in Svarga only so long as his merit is not exhausted. And when the merit is run out, down falls the man by the force of time, even against his will. (The above is the course after death of those who perform Kâmya Karma, according to Vedic rules. This is one way of following Pravritti Mârga. There is another way — the following up of one’s own inclinations, in disregard of the Vedic rules. The next Śloka refers to the performers of prohibited Karma). And if again a man indulges in the prohibited acts, through evil company, if his senses are not controlled, and if in consequence, he is passionate indiscriminate, greedy, excessively fond of women, and unkind to other beings, if the man kills animals wantonly and worships Pretas and Bhûtas, he goes, driven by the law, to the Narakas and finds there intense Tamas.
“Therefore karma (selfish actions) ends in unhappiness. By performing karma with the body, men seek the body again. What happiness is there in the possession of this transitory body? The Lokas and Lokapâlas have to fear me, they who live for one full day of Brahmâ. Even Brahmâ who lives for 2 Parardhas has fear of me.”
(Therefore Pravritti Mârga leads to evil. It should be shunned and Nivritti Mârga should be adopted. This is the purport. Śridhara).
(Now Sri Krishna goes on to refute the first two assumptions (1) that Âtmâ is the doer and (2) that Âtmâ is the enjoyer). The Gunas create actions and the Gunas lead the Gunas. (The Gunas are Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These primal attributes of Prakriti give rise to all her manifestations. The Indriyas, the senses, and the mind are Sâtvic and Râjasic transformations of the Ahankâra manifestation of Prakriti. So they are the Gunas first referred to. The senses and the mind create actions. Our actions are all prompted by them and not by Âtmâ. So Âtmâ is not the doer. It may be said however that the senses and the mind are guided by Âtmâ. But it is not so. The primal attributes (Gunas) lead the senses and the mind (Gunas). If Satva prevails in a man his actions are Sâtvic and so on. It is the nature of the Prâkritic transformations of a man that determines his actions. This is only an elaboration of Śridhara’s notes.)
The Jiva enjoys the fruits of Karma, being connected with the Gunas (The enjoyment by Jiva is also due to its phenomenal basis. “Connected with the Gunas” i.e. connected with the senses and other Prâkritic elements. Jivâtma dwells in the body. When the house falls down, he occupies another house. When the houses are merely halting stations in his long journey, he does not care much for the house itself, he does not identify himself with the house. So when Jivâtma becomes indifferent to the body, it is not affected by the changes of the body. When a house burns, the dweller in the house feels pain. When the house is comfortable, the dweller in the house feels pleasure. His connection with the house is however temporary.)
As long as there is difference in the Gunas (i. e, Guna transformations, Ahankâra &c.), so long there is plurality in Âtmâ. As long as there is plurality so long is it dependent on others. (The difference in Jivâtmas or individuals, is not due to any difference in Âtmâ, but to differences in the Guna transformations which give rise to the body. Dependence is also an accompaniment of those transformations),
So long as Jiva is dependent on others it has fear from Íshvara. Those that worship the Guna transformations are given up to sorrow and they become deluded.