Shankar Bhashya on Gita- One shloka a day- 2.16

Gita 2.16

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः।

उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः।।2.16।।

Of the non-existent there is no being; the existent has no absence. But the nature of both these, indeed, has been realized by the seers of Truth.

There is one more reason due to which one should bear cold-heat and such-dukha without indulging in shoka-moha:-

Because these are non-existent. Neither cold-heat, sukha-dukha nor their causes are existent. Why so? Because these are effects. And effects are liable to change. Just as pots cannot be cognized without their cause, i.e. clay, similarly none of the effects can be cognized without their causes. Their non-cognizance is identical to their non-existence. Thus, all effects are non-existent without their causes.

Objection:- Then everything is non-existent because everything is effect.

Answer:- Not so. Because there are two types of cognitions- i) cognition of the existent ii) cognition of the non-existent. If the cognition related to x does not change, then x is existent. If the cognition related to y changes, then y is non-existent. Thus what is existent or non-existent is actually determined by the changeability or otherwise of respective cognitions. Now in every experience on same substratum, there are two cognitions. ‘The pot is’ has two cognitions. Cognition of ‘pot’ and cognition of ‘isness’. ‘Isness’ is adjective (one which qualifies) while ‘pot’ is noun (one which is qualified by the adjective). Now it is obvious that ‘cognition of pot’ is mutable and hence pot is non-existent (as discussed above). But the ‘cognition of isness’ is immutable and hence ‘isness’ is existent.

Objection: But when the pot perishes and thereby ‘cognition of pot’ proves mutable, the cognition of ‘isness’ also proves mutable. Then how do you say that ‘cognition of isness’ is immutable?

Answer: Because the ‘cognition of isness’ is still available in say cloth or elephant in the experiences like ‘the cloth is’ or ‘the elephant is’.

Objection: That way ‘cognition of pot’ is also available in other pots which have not perished. Thus, ‘cognition of pot’ also can be said to be immutable.

Answer: Not so. Because ‘cognition of pot’ is not available in cloth. While experiencing cloth, there is only ‘cognition of cloth’ and ‘cognition of isness’. There is no ‘cognition of pot’ there. Thus, the ‘cognition of pot’ is mutable (it varies from object to object).

Objection: But ‘cognition of isness’ is not available in the case of pot which has perished. Then how do you say that ‘cognition of isness’ is immutable?

Answer: An adjective cannot be without a substance. That would be illogical. ‘Blue’ in itself does not have any meaning. It is an adjective and it should be with reference to something. Since the pot has perished, the ‘isness’ doesn’t have any substance to refer to. It is not that ‘cognition of isness’ is absent because of absence of ‘isness’. It is absent because of absence of the referred object.

Objection: But you stated earlier that pot is non-existent. Then how can there exist two cognitions pertaining to existent and non-existent in a non-existent substratum?

Answer: Why? Just take the example of mirage wherein there is ‘cognition of light’ and ‘cognition of water’ when one states ‘there is water’ even when there is actually no water. Similarly, even though pot is non-existent like water of mirage, two cognitions can pretty well be there.

Thus, the non-existent entities like cold-heat or sukha-dukha are really not there by virtue of their being effects and the self (=atman), being existent, is never changeable/mutable and is never lost. Thus have this knowledge about Atma-Anatma, existent-nonexistent that existent is always there and non-existent is never there.

This knowledge is habitually perceived by tattva-darshi. What is the meaning of tat in tattva. Tat is a pronoun and it means ‘all’. Now all is Brahman. Thus tattva-darshi is seer of Brahman.

Thus rely on this perception and hold that cold-heat, sukha-dukha are non-existent and these appear just as water in mirage. Accordingly, bear them; endure them because these are appearing illusorily.

Now what is it which is eternally existent? [in next shloka]


I have taken the translation in following manner:-

Sat = exisent

Asat = Non-existent



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