THE MAGIC OF SEEING THROUGH
Bhagwan Krishna thus takes his explanation of sankhya jnan forward by further elaborating upon the body’s perishability and the soul’s immortality. And while doing so, he encourages Arjun to use sankhya jnan to keep himself undisturbed and focused amidst the battlefield.
Krishna tells Arjun, ‘अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत। अव्यक्तनिघनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना॥’ – ‘Avyaktãdeeni bhootãni vyaktamadhyãni bhãrata, avyaktanidhanãnyeva tatra kã paridevanã’ – ‘O Arjun! All beings were unmanifest before they were born. They are manifest only in the middle, or so long as they live. When they die, they become unmanifest once again. What is the cause then for grief?’ (Gita 2.28).
Consider a mound of clay. It is not too difficult to imagine that clay being made into a pot. The same goes for a block of wood being carved into a masterful work of art, or a flower bud blossoming into a fragrant flower. But what about imagining transformation in the opposite direction? What about seeing a pot as mere clay, a carved masterpiece as an ordinary block of wood, or a blossomed flower as a beautiful façade behind which death incessantly rears its ugly head.
Every object in the world goes through three stages – beginning, middle and end. The middle stage is when the object is vyakta, or manifest. The beginning and end stages are when the object is avyakta, or unmanifest. Here, Shri Krishna Bhagwan explains to Arjun that he should see that which is vyakta as avyakta, or that which is manifest as being unmanifest. In other words, he tells Arjun that he should not see things as they are in the middle, but that he should see them as they are in the beginning or end, either before creation or after destruction. Seeing life in this way almost works like magic. Indeed, it opens a person up to an entirely new world of experience and eliminates grief once and for all.
Bhagwan Krishna thus teaches Arjun to look beyond the perishable body and towards the immortal soul. In this way, he teaches him yet another facet of sankhya jnan.
Parabrahman Purushottam Bhagwan Swaminarayan repeatedly stresses this point in his discourses. Once, Muktanand Swami asked Bhagwan Swaminarayan, “Maharaj, life is full of difficultues. Amidst all these difficulties, what understanding should a devotee of God cultivate in order to remain happy at heart?”
Bhagwan Swaminarayan answered, “Constant awareness of the atma, which is distinct from the body; the awareness of the perishable nature of all wordly objects; and the awareness of God’s greatness. By keeping these three forms of awareness, no difficulties hinder… in any way” (Vachanamrut, Gadhada II 60).
Mul Aksharmurti Gunatitanand Swami Maharaj has also expressed similar thoughts in his spiritual talks: “Grief will never occur if, amidst all activities, one keeps the understanding of the world’s perishability” (Swamini Vato 2.24). Also, “How can sankhya be strengthened? The answer, ‘Observe that man dies and the body becomes old. Think of the nitya pralay, nimitta pralay and prakrut pralay ’” (Swamini Vato 1.97).
Here, it is worth mentioning that the changing nature of the world is a concept which many people have explored in modern times. Even scientists like Albert Einstein have accepted that matter is constantly undergoing change. Such intellectuals have thus taken a step towards understanding the world’s nashvantpanu. However, they have not been able to go as far as to say that understanding this reality can free us from grief and help us be happy in life. It’s almost as if such a thought just never occurred to them.
India’s philosophers, on the other hand, have not missed out on this find. For, the science of change in the Gita begins with ‘jatasya hi dhruvo mrutyuhu’ – the ever-changing nature of the world and the stark reality of death – and ends with ‘na tvam shochitum arhasi’, a call to stay composed. Similarly, the Gita does not stop at ‘avyaktãdeeni bhootãni’, a call to see the world in its unmanifest state, but it goes further to say ‘tatra kã paridevanã’, that loss should never be a reason for pain.
This in itself is true science. It is a shining example of the scientific truths in the Hindu shastras. And it is so solid that it might as well be written in stone, for nobody has been able to challenge it to this day.
Sadhu Bhadreshdas, Ph. D., D.Litt.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas