Chapter 2The Eternal Reality of the Soul's ImmortalityVerse 16


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

It may be submitted that the objects of the sense like excessive heat and cold are extremely difficult to endure. Sometimes it is seen that exposure to elements like heat and cold can even cause the destruction of the body. In answer to this to convey that it is possible to endure anything with the correct discrimination of the truth the Supreme Lord states this verse. The unreal being of the nature of the impermanent is not reality having no existence in the self. The real of the nature of the eternal has no destruction being always existent. Thus the conclusion about both of these the real and the unreal has been determined. By whom? As the verse states by the knoweres of the Ultimate Truth who understand the true nature of things. So the conclusion is that by such discrimination one must learn to tolerate and endure them.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The soul is eternal as verified in the Vedas. Why is the soul eternal? Is there anything else eternal as well? Hence it is stated in the verse beginning nasato vidyate. There is no annihilation of a-sat meaning prakriti which is the material substratum or sat referring to the Ultimate Truth because it is declared in the Visnu Purana that prakriti, purusa and kala or time are eternal. Because the word vidyate has been seperately used in relation to sat and a-sat and because it has been said in Srimad Bhagavatam also known as Bhagavat Purana that a-sat is the physical manifestation and sat is of the subtle form the Ultimate Truth of reality, a-sat is known as manifestation of sat, the unmanifest. This understanding for both a-sat and sat and is confirmed by the word anta meaning summation.

Now begins the summation.

The actual sorrow expressed by Arjuna is not being felt because the consequences of war lead to misery in the next life. The rule in the material existence is that every action has its corresponding and equal reaction, thus it is seen that by unrighteous actions there is no happiness and by righteous actions there can be no unhappiness. The words referring to sat bhavah are all connected to happiness and the words connected to a- sat abhava are those which are connected to sorrow.

Thus it is stated in Shabda Nirnaya that sat bhava is sadhu bhava, having meritorious disposition and we will see this word used again further in the Gita. Therefore for whatever is in righteousness the word sat is used. Whoever has thought they have become a-sat, asat brahmeti, for this person their personal conceptions have become a-sat and consequently they become sorrowful.

It should not be misconstrued that the purpose of this verse is to deny the existence of what is appearing now in the present, was non-existing before creation and would be non-existent after destruction. This would be a contradiction in itself. The statement nasato vidyate bhavo is specifically used to emphasise a spiritual truth. Although in normal everyday life people relate to the material manifestation as if it did not exist before and will also cease to exist hereafter. For example a flower to be offered to the Lord which blossomed today, did not exist last week and by next week it will have ceased to exist but still it is utilised while it is here. So there is no reason to reflect that any of this is due to delusion.

Thus it is stated in the Brahma Tarka :

All acts prior to creation and all acts after the dissolution of creation cease to exist is the Vedic statement. If in each action the specific form was not manifest before it was born but came to be formed only later, then wisdom and normal circumstances would not justify such a statement. If according to wisdom and normal circumstances an archetype existed before the form came to exist then before anything is born it did not, in fact exist. Even due to the experiences of modification there is action and its result. Because of these modifications the experiences of the physical body become apparent. Normal affairs in this world take place on the basis of these modifications and the experience connected with these modifications solely.

It is not correct to accept that this world is made up of special attributes such as sat the Ultimate Truth due to its perception of modification and a-sat as the physical manifestation by its being self evident. Both the experiences are subjected to delusion. The physical manifestation is spoken as such because it is evident not because it is understood. If it is non-existent then its knowledge is without purpose even if it is non-manifesting.

A falsehood can never be validated by another falsehood. In delusion the false appearing as truth can never be accepted as real. In normal life the unreal cannot cease to be in any case. That which exists as its form may also appear as real and the same is the case with delusion.

Even though it is indescribable, when what is real appears as truth verily such appearance of truth cannot be accepted as false on the assumption that it is delusion. Thus the truth which appears as unreal should also be accepted then there is no contradiction.

In the Vedic scriptures it is stated the cosmic manifestation is truth. What is created is the truth. The sages and rishi’s who contemplating deeply describe the Ultimate Truth as Self evolved and Self evident and by such words declare the eternal existence of all things created.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

That which is known to be asat or material cannot be made to be sat or spiritual and that which is sat or spiritual annot be made to be asat or material. To those established in truth, the ultimate nature of both are matters discerned by the direct perception of observation.

The literal meaning of anta is end. Here it means the summation or conclusion of the essential natures of sat and asat. The authoritative conclusion arrived at by elevated sages in this matter is that the nature of the physical body is asat being temporary and that the nature of the spiritual soul is sat being eternal. That which is asat is therefore known by its perishable nature and that which is sat is known by its imperishable nature. Hence it is clear that what is indicated by satva and asatva are the soul and the body.

In the Visnu Purana the reverend sage Parasara states: knowledge of the atma or soul is indeed satyam or truth and everything else is that which is not truth. That which is imperishable is that which is the highest truth. But that which is derived by means of perishable things is undoubtedly perishable as well.

The context here has no connection or reference to what is known as satkarya-vada of the Sankhya philosophy which vaguely states: what is not cannot come to be and what is cannot cease to be. For in this context the Supreme Lord Krishna is specifically instructing Arjuna to dispel his delusion, due to not correctly understanding the difference between the perishable nature of the body and the imperishable nature of the soul. It was in order to emphasise this that the previous verse Chapter 2, verse 2 was spoken and it is to further elaborate this subject that the subsequent two verses are revealed. But how is it that the souls imperishable nature is known? The next verse states this.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

It is seen that one feels extreme discomfort due to bodily experiences of excessive heat and cold and the like; if this is the case then what is the experience for one who remains unconscious of the soul even unto the moment of a very painful demise. How can they realize that heat, cold and pain to be impermanent and how can they imagine the eternal reality of the souls immortality. Such questions and bewilderment is clarified by Lord Krishna with the words in the impermanent like heat, cold, pleasure and pain there is no duration and in the permanent as the eternal soul there is no cessation. It must be understood that this nature of the duration and cessation of things in this world cannot be ascertained by one lacking spiritual intelligence. Lord Krishna emphasizes the point that the reality of the duration and cessation in the material existence has been perceived by those elevated souls who have attained the Ultimate Truth. The eternal reality of the souls immortality is revealed in various places in the Vedic scriptures and this has been realized by those who have achieved this understanding.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 2, verse 16 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 16

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