8: Creation and Life After Death : 1.
The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :
The Bhagavadgita is a moksha-shastra, a scripture on the science of the liberation of the spirit. Thus it follows the course of the return process along the same lines as the evolutionary process of the descent of the soul from the Supreme Being. The first six chapters may be said to be engaged in an exposition of self-discipline from the individual point of view, the integration of the human personality and the preparation of the whole man for the greater task which is yet to come – namely, the at-one-ment of the individual with the set-up of the universe. Some of the interpreters and commentators on the Bhagavadgita hold that the first six chapters have a relevance to the significance of the term 'twam' in the famous Upanishadic passage – tat twam asi. The next six chapters pertain to the characteristic of 'tat', or That, and the last six chapters are confined to the exposition of the process of the union of the two, signified by the term 'asi', That Thou Art. Thou That Are, to put it another way – twam tat asi. So this twam is in the first six chapters, tat in the next six, and asi in the last six. This is one of the opinions held by certain interpreters like Madhusudana Saraswati and commentators of that category. However, there seems to be some point in this opinion that the first six chapters are concerned with the discipline of the person, which culminates in the art of concentration, meditation – dhyana-yoga, which is the theme of the sixth chapter.
Now, if we can remember again the scheme of the entire process of the descent of the evolutes in the cosmological process from the higher realities, we would realise that this individuality, this personality, this so-called 'I-consciousness' of ours is a phenomenal appearance. The individual essence itself may not be phenomenal, but what we call the principle of individuality – characteristics which go to constitute the isolated individuality of ours – these externalising features are phenomenal in their nature because it is not true that the individual is totally cut off from the universe. This will be clear and obvious to us if we know how we came from the higher regions. So, the study of cosmology is the background and the rock-bottom, as it were, of any kind of study in philosophy, and certain modern thinkers have held that metaphysics is a critique of cosmologies. This is something very interesting, and without knowledge of the cosmological process it will be difficult for us to know where we are standing today. From the position we are occupying at this moment, we have to ascend further, gradually, through the stages by which we have come from the highest status – the Supreme Being. The Bhagavadgita, from the seventh chapter onwards, right up to the eleventh or the twelfth, occupies itself with this grand subject: the theme of the constitution of the whole universe and its relationship to the creator, Ishvara, Paramatman, Purushottama – the Supreme Being as the director of the whole of creation.
To be continued ...