It is about 40 days ago I had posted the first part posing what I thought would be questions that will interest many readers.
Shri Panigrahi and Shri Peter have been kind to respond giving their observations. I am grateful to them for their comments.
I do not know why there are not many more reactions. The reasons could vary from the reader profile, website personality to flippancy of the questions. But as you may have already anticipated, there cannot be ‘the one correct answer.’ There can only be different views. So without going into much elaboration, I shall spell out my thoughts for the answers.
But before I do so, one small point. Peter’s inspiring comments reminded me what I remember to have read way back several decades ago — a commentary on Bhagavad-Gita by Apte of Pune. He interpreted the whole Kurukshetra fight as a conflict in human mind.
He says that kuru kshetra stands for the field of action — that is the human body-mind.
The war is a conflict faced in our daily lives in decision making — what is right and what is evil action. It is a conflict between the good and dharmic forces on one hand and undesirable traits on the other. The state (rashtra) is usurped (dhRta = unlawfully take control of). The evil forces have an umpteen number (hundred children + others) of supporters. Even worldly skills and knowledge (personified as Drona, an Acharya) side with the usurpers. So does the prideful ‘ego.’
Bhishma embodies ‘ego.’ The ego can’t be killed for, the killer then becomes the ego. The ego has to die its own death on the appointed day.
And so on it goes. A really fascinating allegory.
Gita is a great hands-on-manual for ‘conflict resolution.’ Maybe some of the readers might have already known about this and hence I do not propose to stretch this theme.
Now my answers to the three Questions (without much ado and explanation):
Bhagavad-Gita related Questions:
1. The normally chatty, questioning Arjun becomes totally silent while witnessing the Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna (Viswaruupa samdarshan in Chapter XI). It falls on Sanjay to describe the enchanting Cosmic Form. Arjun finds his voice again only after Krishna withdraws His Cosmic Form and assumes the normal familiar personality. Sage Vyasa, the author, could as well have made Arjun to describe what he saw. Why did the Sage choose to depict Arjun to be wordless while witnessing the Ultimate Reality?
A: Mind is the seat of language. So an individual needs a mind for words to get expressed. Mind is dissolved in the Brahman in the realization of the Supreme Self. Arjun could not speak when he was lost in Oneness because his individuating mind was dissolved. Hence his language capability is gone. Vyasa, the powerful story teller that he was, took care of this subtle point and hence made Sanjay to describe the situation.
2. Related to the same Chapter, The Cosmic Form is shown to be highly scary, ‘red in tooth and claw’, chewing away people and gods, fires and flares oozing out of nostrils, stamping on and stomping the creatures. A Compassionate and kind, tender and loving, caring and caressing form of a benevolent godhead was not shown. Nor a calm and serenely quiet silvery waters blossoming with beautiful lotuses and round green leaves was presented. Why did Sage Vyasa choose to present the Ultimate, the God of Gods, the Pure Consciousness, in such a fierce and threatening form?
A: The timing of the Kurukshetra battle coincided with the end of a yuga. The yuga ending is the time for Dissolution (pralaya). A pralaya takes place (as usually picturized in itihAsa-s) either by flooding or by fires (more so by fire, the Fire God being described as ‘sarvabhakshak’ (= consumer of everything).
Vyasa again shows his skills as a story teller in the depiction of the phase of Dissolution through fires (Krishna declares Kalo2ham). Had the event been taking place at the creation phase, I am pretty sure the scenario would have been a pleasant morning Sun rising, cuckoos cooing, flowers blossoming, fawns prancing and so on.
Advaita siddhanta related Question:
3. In the ultimate understanding of Advaita, the world ‘as it is’ Is Brahman (isavaasya midagum sarvam, neha naanaasti kincana). World is not separate from Brahman. In other words, the world is the form that Brahman appears from moment to moment.
Why do the Non-duality teachers add the phrase ‘from moment to moment’ for the historyless (time invariant) immutable Brahman?
A: (In answering this question I shall assume that the reader is quite familiar with the intricacies of Advaita siddhanta. If any further queries come up, I shall answer them as and when raised).
For ease of communication of my ‘view’, I shall resort to a metaphor. I shall call it, “The Throb in the Blob Metaphor.”
The Throb in the Blob Metaphor:
Imagine a homogeneous isotropic indivisible infinite shapeless Blob that has awareness. Say a small throb occurs somewhere within it. The throb is a movement. It is like a ripple with a rise and a fall. Any movement can happen only in space. Movement also takes time. So along with the throb, space and time are engendered.
As the Blob looks through the movement (i.e. The Blob being aware, is aware of itself), variegated, colorful and multiple shapes appear, much like the one uniform white light passing through a prism gets refracted into multicolored spectrum. (Remember all this is taking place somewhere within the Blob itself).
In the above metaphor, the Blob is Brahman; the throb is a thought; and the colorful spectrum is the world.
The throb oscillates like a swing. It comes and goes. With each rise of the thought, a world is generated. With each ending of the thought, the world is dissolved.
If there is no throb, there is no thought.
If there is no thought, there is no world.
The moment the throb (thought) rises, so does the world. The moment thought dissolves, the world too ends. Hence the appearance of the world happens from moment to moment.
If you are unconvinced, well, the fault lies in my expression but not in the model.
Thanks for the post! I take all spiritual writings to refer to the dynamics of one
individual, one mind complex (for lack of a better description). All the characters in the Gita, all the characters in Quran, all the charcters in the Bible refer to what is going on in one individual. The Jihad refers to the battle within, NOT to the “infidel” without. The battle Arjuna didn’t want to fight was the battle within, not any thing without. The Twelve Disciples of Jesus refer to twelve aspects
(archetypes) within one individual and how they interact within that one individual…the betrayer, the unifier, the introvert, the extravert etc.
Creation and Dissolution refer, I think, to the arising and disappearing of a thought. The lotuses, beauty, the silvery lining all refer to the birth of one thought and then the bloody, terror-filled form refers to the dissolution of that thought. I think this is the micro aspect of us. The macro aspect may refer to the Yuga, the wider dissolution of the universe.
I use drishti-srishti vada as a working hypothesis. With the arising of “I”, all else appears. With its dissolution, all else disappears. Without the perceiver there is nothing to perceive. This just seems perfectly obvious. (that does NOT mean I always live 24 hours a day with this view. I does mean that I keep coming back to it.)
My opinion here: a big, big problem in the world is that so many in so many different religions try to take the scriptures literally and seem unable or unwilling to see the dynamics of those scriptures as aspects of themselves, at least potentially. Yes….much, much easier to see the “negative”, dissolving aspects of god as out there, NOT in here, in me. Much, much easier to think all those heathens and infidels need to be punished or killed and NOT look within at what in me may need to be dissolved, made clear, looked at.
Thank you Steve.
Your simple words carry a profound message.