Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bhaya in the Gita

This post is about the word bhaya in Gita, its translation by Swami Gambhirananda, and some of my notes.

  1. bhayaadraNaaduparataM ma.nsyante tvaaM mahaarathaaH .
    yeshhaa.n cha tvaM bahumato bhuutvaa yaasyasi laaghavam.h .. 2.35..

    The great chariot-riders will think of you as having desisted from the fight out of fear; and you will into disgrace before them to whom you had been esteemed by.

  2. nehaabhikramanaasho.asti pratyavaayo na vidyate .
    svalpamapyasya dharmasya traayate mahato bhayaat.h .. 2.40..

    Here there is no waste of an attempt; nor is there (any) harm. Even a little of this righteousness saves (one) from great fear.

    [pratyavaaya is a kind of paapa that one incurs due to non-performance of duties that one has to perform, as defined by the shaastra. Rules for sin etc. are given in Purva-Mimamsa (P.M) sutras. Fear of these sins, or attachment to the desires drives one to do duties that have to be performed. Lord Krishna allays this fear by saying that doing the scripture-ordained-duties, shaastra-vihita-karma with an Ishvara-arpita-buddhi would save one from pratyavaaya-paapa. On the other hand, karma that is kaama-samkalpita (as well as raaga/dvesha samkalpita), duties that are prompted by desire (as well as attachment and aversion) works, would have the usual P.M rules applied to them (???). These kinds of works lead one to greater (vedantic sense) peril anyway, as they keep one in the cycle of births and deaths.]

  3. duHkheshhvanudvignamanaaH sukheshhu vigataspR^ihaH .
    viitaraagabhayakrodhaH sthitadhiirmuniruchyate .. 2.56..

    That monk is called a man of steady wisdom when his mind is unperturbed in sorrow, he is free from longing for delights, and has gone beyond attachment, fear and anger.

    [Swami Dayananda notes that the underlying root cause of both attachment as well as anger is Fear.]

  4. shreyaansvadharmo viguNaH paradharmaatsvanushhThitaat.h .
    svadharme nidhana.n shreyaH paradharmo bhayaavahaH .. 3.35..

    One's own duty, though defective, is superior to another's duty well-performed. Death is better while engaged in one's own duty; another's duty is fraught with fear.

    [Another's duty will induce great fear. The primary cause for Arjuna's confusion is the misunderstanding of his duty. The persons who were standing before him were evil doers, aatataayi and he was kshatriya. So, his current duty is to punish those people. Instead, he wanted to renounce and go to Himalayas. (This is exactly what is happening in India now-a-days. As a country, India seems to have lost its kshaatra-dharma.)

    Krishna explains that another's duty is fraught with fear as in a Vedantic sense, any secular duty is as good as another. Further dereliction of one's duty (svadharma) does not fulfill the "karma as a purifier" model.

    Also, compare this verse with the following verse in the final chapter of Gita:

    shreyaansvadharmo viguNaH paradharmaatsvanushhThitaat.h .
    svabhaavaniyataM karma kurvannaapnoti kilbishham.h .. 18.47..

    One's own duty, (though) defective, is superior to another's duty well performed. By performing a duty as dictated by one's own nature, one does not incur sin.

    The message of both these verses is unequivocal: Do your duty with Ishvara-arpita-buddhi. It will save you from the fear of non-performance of duty, as well as save you from paapa, sin.]

  5. viitaraagabhayakrodhaa manmayaa maamupaashritaaH .
    bahavo GYaanatapasaa puutaa madbhaavamaagataaH .. 4.10..

    Many who were devoid of attachment, fear and anger, who were absorbed in Me, who had taken refuge in Me, and were purified by the austerity of Knowledge, have attained My state.

    [Second instance when attachment and anger are clubbed together with fear. Earlier, it was in 2.56. Once these three are defeated, then there is no time needed for sinking of the Knowledge which leads one to the infinite state.]

  6. yatendriyamanobuddhirmunirmokshaparaayaNaH .
    vigatechchhaabhayakrodho yaH sadaa mukta eva saH .. 5.28..

    (Keeping the external objects outside, the eyes at the juncture of the eye-brows, and making equal the outgoing and incoming breaths that move through the nostrils,) the contemplative who has control over his organs, mind and intellect should be fully intent on Liberation and free from desire, fear and anger.

    [Here is ichcha (which is another form of raaga) that is clubbed together with bhaya and krodha. See 2.56 and 4.10 as well.]

  7. prashaantaatmaa vigatabhiirbrahmachaarivrate sthitaH .
    manaH sa.nyamya machchitto yukta aasiita matparaH .. 6.14..

    He should remain seated with a placid mind, free from fear, firm in the vow of a celibate, and with the mind fixed on Me by controlling it through concentration, having Me as the supreme Goal.

  8. buddhirGYaanamasaMmohaH kshamaa satya.n damaH shamaH .
    sukhaM duHkhaM bhavo.abhaavo bhaya.n chaabhayameva cha .. 10.4..

    Intelligence, wisdom, non-delusion, forgiveness, truth, control of the external organs, control of the internal organs, happiness, sorrow, birth, death and fear as also fearlessness;

    [Here fear is trepidation, and fearlessness is its absence. These are used as a prerequisite for gaining Knowledge.]

  9. amii hi tvaa.n surasaN^ghaa vishanti
    kechidbhiitaaH praaJNjalayo gR^iNanti .
    svastiityuktvaa maharshhisiddhasaN^ghaaH
    stuvanti tvaa.n stutibhiH pushhkalaabhiH .. 11.21..

    Those very groups of gods enter into You; struck with fear, some extol (You) with joined palms. Groups of great sages and perfected beings praise You with elaborate hymns,saying 'May it be well!'

  10. vaktraaNi te tvaramaaNaa vishanti
    da.nshhTraakaraalaani bhayaanakaani .
    kechidvilagnaa dashanaantareshhu
    sa.ndR^ishyante chuurNitairuttamaaN^gaiH .. 11.27..

    They rapidly enter into Your terrible mouths with cruel teeths! Some are seen sticking in the gaps between the teeth, with their heads crushed!

  11. adR^ishhTapuurva.n hR^ishhito.asmi dR^ishhTvaa
    bhayena cha pravyathitaM mano me .
    tadeva me darshaya deva ruupaM
    prasiida devesha jagannivaasa .. 11.45..

    I am delighted by seeing something not seen heretofore, and my mind is stricken with fear. O Lord, show me that very form; O supreme God, O Abode of the Universe, be gracious!

    [The question is, why did not Arjuna speak like vaagabhriNi or vaamadeva of Rig Veda, or like Janaka in beginning chapters of Ashtavakra Gita? According to an opinion, it is because of the "primal fear", fear of duality, which Vyaasa due to His brilliance wanted us to remember. Any experience involves the diads and triads. Which means duality. On the other hand, Advaita is ekam-advitiiyam: One without a second.]

  12. yasmaannodvijate loko lokaannodvijate cha yaH .
    harshhaamarshhabhayodvegairmukto yaH sa cha me priyaH .. 12.15..

    He, too, owing to whom the world is not disturbed, and who is not disturbed by the world, who is free from joy, impatience, fear and anxiety, is dear to Me.

    [One who is a good knower of Self never ever perturbs the state of the world by his anxieties.]

  13. abhayaM sattvasa.nshuddhirGYaanayogavyavasthitiH .
    daanaM damashcha yaGYashcha svaadhyaayastapa aarjavam.h .. 16.1..

    Fearlessness, purity of mind, persistence in knowledge and yoga, charity and control of the external organs, sacrifice, (scriptural) study, austerity and recititude;

    [Fearlessness is a prerequisite to the gaining of knowledge.]

  14. duHkhamityeva yatkarma kaayakleshabhayaattyajet.h .
    sa kR^itvaa raajasaM tyaagaM naiva tyaagaphalaM labhet.h .. 18.8..

    Whatever action one may relinquish merely as being painful, from fear of physical suffering, he, having resorted to renunciation based on rajas, will surely not acquire the fruits of renunciation.

  15. pravR^itti.n cha nivR^itti.n cha kaaryaakaarye bhayaabhaye .
    bandhaM moksha.n cha yaa vetti buddhiH saa paartha saattvikii ..

    O Partha, that intellect is born of sattva which understands action and withdrawal, duty and what is not duty, the sources of fear and fearlessness, and bondage and freedom.

  16. yayaa svapnaM bhayaM shokaM vishhaadaM madameva cha .
    na vimu.nchati durmedhaa dhR^itiH saa paartha taamasii .. 18.35..

    That firmness is considered to be born of tamas due to which a person with a corrupt intellect does not give up sleep, fear, sorrow, despondency as also sensuality.

    [These fears are lower level fears that have to be conquered.]

Here is some notes: The Brihadaranaka Upanishad says dvitiyaad vai bhayam bhavati. The same sentiment is expressed in Srimad Bhagavatham, 11.2.37. This "primal fear" is the root cause of all suffering and all ephermeal existence. Only when this is conquered does one reach the ekam-advitiiyam-stage (One without a second state.) The fearlessness of GYaanis is well known. How can a dream tiger cause fear, when in waking state? It can cause fear when in the dream state.

  • This fear is what has been conquered by Prahlada, who was a natural GYaani. Hence when the Lord appeared in a ferocious form, he remained unperturbed.
  • This fear is what cause Arjuna tremble when he saw the Lord in His fearful form, and hence the reason for Arjuna asking the Lord to re-appear in a sattvik form.
  • This primal bhaya is what made Swami Vivekananda cry out in fear, asking Ramakrishna Paramahamsa "what are you doing to me?", when the latter touched Him on the heart. This will turn out to be a delusional fear anyway!

The above primal fear seems to be different from the ordinary fear that we face in daily life. Some people seem to be more bold, because they have conquered their inhibitions. One could think that there is a lower bhaya, which has to be conquered so that Vedanta can be imbibed. Lord Krishna is unequivocal in conquering this lower fear. Do your Duty. Do it with dedication. It will save you from great fear. it will create a serenity in you that will make you ready for Vedanta. Even among non-atma-GYaanis, the people who have conquered this lower fear by doing their duty have obtained the necessary aatma-shuddhi and hence will imbibe Vedanta better.

May we pray to the Lakshmi Narasimha who drives away the fear from our hearts so that we can let the Vedanta sink in our hearts deeply!

ekena chakramapareNa kareNa sha~Nkha\-
manyena sindhutanayaamavalambya tishhThan.h .
vaametareNa varadaabhayapadmachihnaM
lakShmiinR^isi.nha mama dehi karaavalambam.h ..

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