Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2, Sloka 17-18

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 17

Avinashu tu tad viddhi yena sarvamidam tatam
Vinashinam avyayasyasya na kascit kartum arhati.

Know that the Atman by which this whole universe is pervaded is indestructable. No one can cause destruction of “That” imperishable.

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It is easy to understand the principle behind the “imperishable Atman” by looking at few examples.

We must accept the truth that there is the power of “Atman” inside every living creature on earth. There is no exception to this rule. We may give different names to the “soul” but the principle of “divine energy” is the same in all.

Similarly, the entire universe is pervaded by the “primordial Energy” and we give different names for it.

Electricity is invisible. It can be experienced. It is manifest in different ways like light in bulbs, sound in music system etc. We can destroy the bulbs but we cannot destroy the electricity.

The pots are made up of clay. Pots can be of different varieties but the clay in each of them is same. One can destroy the pots but cannot destroy the clay.

We can destroy the great and tiny buildings. We can never destroy the space those buildings occupied.

Similarly, we have to understand that the Atman, the energy behind our life is indestructable. The body made up of the five gross elements dies on departure of the atman inside.

All forms of life on this earth get destroyed during deluge, (pralaya). The energy behind its survival will not get destroyed.

We can understand this by looking at the screen in the theatre. So many films are projected on the screen. The scenes change, the films change but the screen is the constant factor.

We do not think even for a moment about the screen and get totally absorbed with the events on the screen. Some will be happy events and some will be sad events. Many of us express our emotions in line with the changes. There are very few who do not forget that the events on the screen are only temporary and are not affected by the changes.

Similarly, the lesson to learn is that the atman within us is the constant factor and the body, mind, intellect equipment is ever changing.

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Sloka 18

ANATAVANTU IME DEHA NITYASYOKTA SHAREERINAHA
ANASHINO’PRAMEYASYA TASMAT YUDHYASVA BHARATA

These bodies of the embodied Self, they are subject to destruction. The Self is eternal, indestructible, incomprehensible. Therefore, fight, O Arjuna.

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The Atman, Soul inside each one of us is the Life Prinicple and is responsible for us being alive. The physical body made up of the five gross elements is brought to life by the power of the Soul within. When the Soul departs, the physical body loses all its qualities and becomes lifeless.

The soul on the other hand departs on death with the subtle mind and intellect to the unknown world. It awaits the command from the Paramatma and His blessings to be born again with the body made up of five gross elements. The soul never dies. The final destination for it is to merge with the Supreme Soul and the state is known as “Liberation.” Thus say the learned elders and Sri Krishna reiterates the fundamental Truth.

Sri Krishna uses the word “incomprehensible.” Why?

We the humans have the physical body which has three planes of comprehension. They are “Intellect, Mind and Senses.”

At each level we have the capacity to partially comprehend any object. But each of these tools has a limited capacity to comprehend. It is impossible to comprehend that which has no form, no qualities: “Nirguna, Nirakara.” The Supreme Soul, as we have learnt so far is without any form or qualities. However much we try we cannot rise above the planes of senses, mind and intellect to understand “Him.” Here again, we use the word “Him” which is not true. But, at our higher level of understanding, ie: the intellect, we can partially comprehend the fundamental Truth.

The only way out is to get merged with the Truth and lose one’s sense of identification with the body.

Arjuna is told that all the warriors he is facing have the Atman inside which is indestructible and the physical body which is subject to destruction. “As you are unable to comprehend the Truth of the Atman,”, “as you have taken Me as your Guru,”, “listen to Me and fight”.

This is the message from the learned master to his disciple.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at “snath@btinternet.com“.

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