Chapter II, Verse 18
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Finite and limited are the physical bodies wherein dwells the spirit which is deathless, endless, and infinite. Therefore, O Arjuna, strive! (Let the dust melt into the dust.)
The body dies, the individualized consciousness (soul) remains limitless. Descendent of the blind intellect (Arjuna), correct your understanding.
Verse 18 is a summation of verses 16 and 17. Verse 16 was concerned with comparison, as in the false cannot be true and a being cannot become a non-being. Verse 17 was concerned with the singularity of consciousness, the one “substance” that is indestructible. Verse 18 clarifies that individual parts have no permanent existence separately but are forever preserved as a part of the whole.
Do you get to see your relatives upon death? Since their consciousness has always been a part of your consciousness, you can “see” them anytime that you expand your awareness.
Books in a library may be taken out by many different readers. Eventually, no matter how far they have journeyed, no matter how many individuals have read each, the books are returned to the library.
When an individual becomes enlightened, the cycles of life and death and of creation and destruction are perceived like a grand show where the actors play different roles and the props are repurposed for the next production.
Consciousness is eternal. Conscious energy is the substance of illusion. Intention and will power direct the conscious energy to create an illusion. All illusions are limited by the cycle of appearance, physical existence and eventually destruction. Consciousness remains unchanged throughout.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Antavanta – This Sanskrit word is typically translated as “having an end”or a “termination” in reference to the human body. Primarily due to the limitations of the English language (and by the desire to keep the poetic nature of the Gita intact), this translation is inaccurate. Antavanta refers to the “end of time”. In this verse, the “termination of a body” should more accurately be as “a body whose time is complete”. The difference is subtle and will be more clear when using the Bhagavad Gita as a Sanskrit primer as opposed to a guiding scripture. In a larger context it also means when the creation ends.
Bharata – The Average Human Devotee.
Arjuna is a descendant of King Bharata and this is a general epithet also applied to King Dhrtarastra who in the Bhagavad Gita represents the intellect blinded by the senses. In other words, Bharata is a devotee, but an ignorant one who is new to the path of enlightenment. Contrast the root “Bharata” with the root “Kuru” in other epithets for Arjuna. The “Kuru” dynasty represents the ida nadi and the pursuit of worldliness, while the Bharata dynasty represents the pingala nadi and the pursuit of enlightenment.
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