The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :
In the language of the Vedanta, the Self is supposed to be understood by us in three ways – namely, the apparent self, which we seem to recognise in all objects of our longing or desire; a self which seems to be present in everything with which we are vitally connected, especially through our emotions, known as the gaunatman or the secondary self. The son loves his father, the father loves his son. We cannot say that the son is the father, or the father is the son. There is no intelligible explanation as to why the father should cling to his son as if he is his own self. However, the father loves his son as if the son is his own self, and the joy of the son is the joy of the father, the sorrow of the son is the sorrow of the father. Anything that happens to the son happens to the father. The birth and death of the son is the birth and death of the father, as it were, as we see in social parlance. How come the father sees himself in the son, the rich man sees himself in his wealth, and anyone fired up with an intense passion of any kind sees himself or herself in that object which is the target of this feeling?
This particular object which forces the subject, directs its attention towards itself, this power in the object which necessitates the subject to pour itself upon itself on the object, is the bondage of the individual. The power by which we are compelled to be intensely conscious of that which is other than ourselves is the samsara, so-called – the involvement of every individual in a terrible, unintelligible network of suffering. The gaunatman, or the secondary self, is the object of our desire, to put it precisely; it may be son, it may be daughter, it may be wife, it may be husband, it may be any blessed thing. Now, why do we call these objects as our self? In what sense do we regard them as an Atman, though it may be a secondary self or a gaunatman? It is impossible to love anything which is not a self; the Atman or the Self alone is the object of desire – no one can love anything except the Self. And even when we love anything apparently other than our self, we convert it into our self in some artificial manner; otherwise, love for a thing or for a person is unthinkable in this world. So even when we love our father, or son, or husband, or wife, or wealth, we are loving our own self in a terribly mistaken manner. A person is totally out of gear psychologically, in a terrible misconception, when one's affections are poured over those things which cannot, in any way, identify with one's self, for reasons already mentioned in the context of that sutra of Patanjali – Parinama papa, etc. We can never come in contact with them – yet, we have no more regard in this world except the desire to come in contact. Life is a contradiction, it appears. It pulls us powerfully from two different directions in contrary ways.
The gaunatman, therefore, is the secondary self – a self which is imagined, foisted upon that which can never become the self. The object can never become the subject, and our object of love or affection cannot become us. It cannot satisfy us, it is not us, we have no connection with it – yet we seem to be concerned only with that. This is the wisdom to which we are initiated by the social atmosphere in which we are born, and the education that we receive in this world. This is a travesty indeed, in which we find ourselves.
To be continued ....