Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) Chapter 2: 16

January 23, 2022

™nᾱ ’sato vidyate bhᾱvo nᾱ ’bhᾱvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ’ntas tv anayos tattvadarśibhiḥ (II-16)

II/16. The unreal has no being: there is no non-being of
the real. The truth about both has been seen by the knowers
of the truth.


Swamiji's Commentary

      The reality or God alone exists: that which always exists is God. That which is, is eternal and infinite. No one can bring into being that which is not! It is simple and does not need God to tell us! But God tells us because only he knows the totality; we cannot know the totality, ours is always a point of view. That which intuitively knows this knows the totality.

      Then, what is this world? It is like the appearance of ‘a snake in the rope’, of a second moon when one suffers from diplopia, of the illusion of a mirage, of ghosts in posts in the dark courtyard, and of a second pill on the palm (when the one that is there, is touched by the scissor-crossed index and middle fingers of the other hand). When did the snake die? When did the second moon set? When did the water of the mirage evaporate? Where did the ghosts go? Who took the second pill? They never existed; they were but illusory phenomena, non-existent but experienced!

     Life itself is a long dream. We are unable to realize the illusoriness of the external objects because the dream is still on. We resist the awakening influence – like the dreamer of a pleasant dream – and pull the blanket of ignorance over our faces.

     When it is said: “The world is unreal”, it is not suggested that we are seeing the world where nothing exists. We only mean to say that there is wrong perception: something exists (the self or God) and we see it as something else (world). To the little boy sitting under the tree, its shadow appears to be a phantom born at midday, growing till sunset and dying then!

     The jīvanmukta (liberated being) is aware of both – viz., the reality and the fact that to the unenlightened the appearance is experienced as real. Hence, he is never deluded, even as we see the shadow come into being, grow and vanish, but we are not deceived by it. He is aware of the appearance (world) and its substratum (the self).

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