2.18 antavanta ime dehā (Original)

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Chapter 2

<< Chapter 2 verse 17


antavanta ime dehā
nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ
anāśino ’prameyasya
tasmād yudhyasva bhārata

These bodies are declared terminable with respect to the eternal, indestructible and undemonstrable (ātmās) indwelling the bodies. Therefore do thou, 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.’;[2. Puṇyaḥ puṇyena Karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpena, etc., (Br: Up: VI-4-5).]

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 prover[3. 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.]. 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 thee, and bear it in others; and thus going to war etc., but without desire for fruit thereof, prepare thyself for reaching immortality.

>> Chapter 2 verse 19

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