Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

song of God (Bhagavad Gita) — Chapter XI: 28-29

August 15, 2020

™yathā nadīnāṁ bahavo ’ṁbuvegāḥ
  samudram evā ’bhimukhā dravanti
tathā tavā ’mī naralokavīrā
  viśanti vaktrāṇy abhivijvalanti (XI-28)

™yathā pradīptaṁ jvalanaṁ pataṅgā
  viśanti nāśāya samṛddhavegāḥ
tathai ’va nāśāya viśanti lokās
  tavā ’pi vaktrāṇi samṛddhavegāḥ (XI-29)

XI/28. Verily, just as many torrents of rivers flow towards the ocean, even so these heroes in the world of men enter thy flaming mouths.

XI/29. As moths hurriedly rush into a blazing fire for their own destruction, so also these creatures hurriedly rush into thy mouths for their own destruction.

Swamiji's Commentary

      The mystery deepens. Into this great being’s ‘mouth’ enter all beings, as rivers enter the ocean. Into this great being’s ‘mouth’ enter all beings, as moths rush into a blazing fire.

      Two similes are used with good purpose for there is a wonderful distinction between the two, and a significant reason why the Lord used two to illustrate a single factor. The river entering the ocean finds its fulfillment; but the moth entering the fire finds its destruction – not in the sense of annihilation, but in the sense of non-fulfillment.

      These are the two courses open to each human being. The wise one chooses the former which the Kaṭhopanisad calls ‘śreyo mārga’ It implies turning away from the objects of the  senses,  daring  to  defy  obstacles  (just  as  the  river  encounters  obstacles  in  its progress), overcoming them in various ways and eventually surrendering the limited personality which has been the cause of all our woes in order that we may become one with the whole. The path does not seem to be rosy and smooth, tempting and attractive, but the goal is supreme peace and total fulfillment.

      The unwise man, blinded by the blazing fire of illusion, refuses to see the reality and takes to the ‘preyo mārga’ – the path of pleasure – which pleases the senses. The blazing fire is beautiful! It is tempting and inviting. The ignorant moth rushes towards it, having no time to think or reflect, since the call of the senses (the eye of the moth in this case) is irresistible. At the first touch of the fringe of flame, the wings of the moth are destroyed; and man loses his wisdom and will. Now it is too late. All his vain effort is destroyed.

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