2.18 anthavantha imE dhEhA

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

Chapter 2

<< Chapter 2 verse 17

SlOkam – Original

anthavantha imE dhEhA nithyasyOkthA: SarIriNa: |
anASinO ’pramEyasya thasmAdh yudhyasva bhAratha ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

imE dhEhA: – the bodies that are visible
nithyasya – eternal (who does not have a beginning)
anAchina: – who is never destroyed
apramEyasya – being the chEthana (sentient) who is the enjoyer and different from the achEthana (matter) that is enjoyed
SaRIriNa: – for the AthmA
anthavantha: ukthA: – it is said (in SAsthram) that (since it is acquired to enjoy the fruits of the karma, once the karma is over) they get destroyed
bhAratha – oh descendant of bharatha clan!
thasmAth – thus
yudhyasva – you fight

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

Oh descendant of bharatha clan! For the AthmA who is eternal, indestructible and that is being the chEthana (sentient) who is the enjoyer and different from the achEthana (matter) that is enjoyed,  it is said (in SAsthram) that (since it is acquired to enjoy the fruits of the karma, once the karma is over) these bodies that are visible get destroyed; Thus, you fight.

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

These bodies are declared terminable with respect to the eternal, indestructible and undemonstrable (ātmās) indwelling the bodies. Therefore do you, Bhārata, fight.

The term deha (body) is derived from dih, to increase. And therefore those bodies which increase, have decrease, and therefore are of destructible nature, as in the example of a pot which comes to be a pot by increase, combination, aggregation (or growth), and is therefore subject to decline, or segregable. The elements combine and become bodies for the service of the eternal embodying (ātmā), to enable it to experience therein the fruits of karma (past deeds). Say the Śāstras:

‘By merit, (one becomes) meritorious etc.’;1

The bodies last as long as karma has to be exhausted, then they disappear.

As for ātmā, it is indestructible. Why?

Because it is not an object (of demonstration) (aprameya). For ātmā is to be known not as an object to be proved, but as the subject, the prover2. It is so declared further on.-“The versed (in soul-science) call him who knows this (kshetra), as the knower of kshetra (matter – the extended) (Bh: Gi XIII-1).

Ātmā is inconceivable as an aggregate of many (substances or elements), for everywhere in bodies it is apprehended in its uniform character of being different from body as prover or cognizer (pramātri), by such experience as ‘I know this’. Nor is ātmā apprehensible as of mutable nature as is the case with the various parts of a body. Hence, by reason of its uniform (or changeless) nature (everywhere), ātmā is not an entity which can increase by aggregation. By reason, moreover, of its being the prover (subject) and being the pervader, ātmā is eternal. As regards ‘body,’ because it is aggregable, because it is for the service of the embodied (ātmā) in its experiencing the fruits of karma; because it is multiform; and because it is penetrable; it is destructible.

Hence, because ‘body’ is of perishable nature, and because ātmā is of eternal nature, neither of them can be just ground for regret. And therefore, with fortitude, bear the unavoidable sharp contacts of arrows etc., falling on you, and bear it in others; and thus going to war etc., but without desire for fruit thereof, prepare yourself for reaching immortality.

>> Chapter 2 verse 19

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  1. Puṇyaḥ puṇyena Karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpena, etc., (Br: Up: VI-4-5).
  2. Ātma, the I, being the self conscious entity is no object of consciousness. I is the Cognizer of all facts of consciousness, and no fact of consciousness can prove the cognizer.

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