Bhagavad Gita – Tat Tvam Asi /2/

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

To sum up what we read so far and to give some overview of the chapters to come, here follows an excerpt from the book “Tat Tvam Asi” by Dr. P. V. Nath.

Dr. Nath as well as the publishers of the book kindly gave permission to include short passages of his book in this newsletter. For the chapters to come this might help myself as well as others in understanding the subject by adding further information to the current flow of exposition by Dr. Nath. I truly hope all of you will bear with my choices. Dasha.

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“Tat Tvam Asi” means “Thou Art That” (Tat – That, Tvam – You, Asi – Art).

The essence of Bhagavadgita is to make one realise the Tat Tvam Asi aspect of Him. We are really the Atman or “divinity” with an outer covering of the physical body inside which is the subtle body consisting of the mind and the intellect.

Unfortunately, we get attached to the body and develop the “ego”. Ego is the “I” or “My”-ness in us. It makes us believe that our physical body is real. We forget that we are living because of the life-force inside us. The life-force is the spiritual energy and is known commonly as the “Soul” or the Atman.

The Gita consists of 18 chapters. Experts say that
(1) The first six chapters deal with “Tvam”
(2) The second six chapters deal with “Tat” and
(3) The last six chapters deal with “Asi”.

The Gita does not advocate blind faith. Sri Krishna, the teacher, says that every person must test the validity of the Shastras at every step. By finding out that what is said in the Shastras has been correct, one gets more faith in that Shastra and his future actions will be according to the Shastras.

Lord Krishna wants us all to use our intellectual capacity (Buddhi) and analyse our thoughts and actions. We must test the validity of the Shastras at every step and get more confidence in the Shastras.

The first chapter is an introduction to the discourse. It brings out the state of distress in Arjuna. Krishna and Arjuna knew each other for several years. Arjuna had not realised the true identity of Krishna and also was not aware of his true nature. In answer to Arjuna´s request for help to overcome the grief which came out of distress, Sri Krishna gives the message of the Gita. Krishna did not teach the Gita before. Why?

There was no reason for Arjuna to feel sorry for himself. Arjuna was a Kshatriya (warrior). Even though he had faced several problems before, his Kshatriya nature had not deserted him. He had a will to fight and survive.

But, the present war was of a different nature. It was a case of win or loose, die or survive. Not only that, he had to face the reality and be prepared to fight his respected elders like Bhisma, Drona and Kripa. They had to be killed. Feeling sorry for himself, frightened of committing the sinful act of killing elders, brought an immense sense of grief. He lost his Kshatriya instinct and dropped his bow Gandiva and he told Krishna, “I do not want to fight”. This was all due to ignorance. He wanted to forcibly change his Kshatriya nature and become a Sannyasi.

Arjuna had the sense to ask for help. He immediately requested Krishna to guide him in the right path. Sri Krishna realising the earnestness in the request, realising the real capacity of his disciple, takes up the task of teaching the knowledge. He takes Arjuna as his student and helps him to overcome his ignorance.

Before describing various paths Arjuna could take, Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a detailed description of the “Real Arjuna”, the Atman. The second chapter is a description of the Atman (Tvam) and ends up in a wonderful description of a Sthitaprajna (man of steady wisdom). It is considered to be the summary of the philosophical content of the Gita.

Anybody who is sincerely trying for spiritual progress must have belief in the Atman. He must believe that there is a soul in him and in all living creatures. It is no use teaching or talking about scriptures to those who are not believers in the Atman. Of course a non-believer, sincerely wanting to know about Atman is also entitled to be told about it.

So this chapter is in the right order. Instead of telling Arjuna to fight, instead of telling seekers in the path of liberation to do Karma-Yoga, Jnana-Yoga etc., Sri Krishna, the teacher has beautifully given a description of the Atman (soul).

Krishna then (in the third chapter) takes up Karma-Yoga which deals with duties of all of us towards our “Tvam” (Soul). Indirectly, they are duties of our universe and our society.

In the fourth chapter, he takes up Jnana-Yoga. By performing right action how one could get real knowledge and by real knowledge how one should act, is taken up in this chapter.

The fifth chapter is Karmasamnyasa-Yoga wherein he talks about renunciation of fruits of action which will help us to realise the Atman in us.

The sixth chapter is Dhyana-Yoga which gives a detailed description of how to meditate and realise the “REAL YOU” inside the “FALSE YOU”.

The second six chapters in the Gita dwell on the issue of “Tat”, meaning “That”.

After describing “who you are” in the first six chapters, Sri Krishna now points out what is “That”. He says “That” is “Atman” or the “Soul” which is only a part of the Supreme Atman, known as “Paramatman”.

The last six chapters assert the importance of Tat and Tvam again and say “Yes, you are correct”. (“Asi” means “art”, i.e. the verb “are”, i.e. YOU ARE).

Four of its six chapters have titles which include the word Vibhaga. Vibhaga means division or separation. Separation of “FALSE YOU” from “THE REAL YOU” is what is expected from all of us if we want to realise the Paramatman.

The seventeenth chapter is Sraddhatraya-Vibhaga-Yoga. It tells us that one needs faith to achieve what one wants. It gives us a detailed description of bodily and mental actions and thoughts which would help us strengthen out faith in “Tat”.

The eighteenth chapter is Moksha-Samnyasa-Yoga. The Sadhaka having understood the 17 chapters thoroughly should be able to drop even the desire to achieve liberation. He is bound to achieve the final liberation and unite with “TAT”. He does not need to think of reaching that state.

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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