Bhagavadgita, cognition, Buddhism?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 30 18:30:45 UTC 2000

>refers to the body as a 'sa.mghaata' of various impure substances; this may
>be why S. and R. both read the body into this rather obscure passage.)

Well, take into account the content of verses 13.5-6. This is one of
enumeration (sa.mkhyaa), which underlies all of saa.mkhya thought. Having
ticked off the list of the five (subtle) elements, the ego, the intellect,
the unmanifest, the ten organs with mind as the eleventh and the five
objects of the senses, there is an expectation in saa.mkhya that the k.setra
should specifically mention the locus of all these, which is the body. A
similar expectation arises from the vai;se.sika perspective also, which asks
for the aa;sraya of the indriyas and their activity. In both schools of
thought, a distinction is made between the deha that is maataa-pit.r-ja
(saa.mkhya) or yonija (vai;se.sika) and the indriyas that are bhuuta-ja.

Also, the list of things in 13.5 would be regarded as purely material and
non-conscious. 13.2 has already set the conscious k.setrajna apart from the
k.setra, but activity and cognitive processes are still part of the k.setra.
Now 13.6 steps in, to list things that are signs of life and awareness or
cognition (saa.mkhya) or that are inferential marks of the individual self
(vai;se.sika). It is in this context that one must look for the meanings of
sa.mghaata and dh.rti in this verse. The commentators seem to have good
reason to bring in the body here.

Also see yuktidiipikaa on saa.mkhyakaarikaa 29, where dh.rti is one of five
karmayonis, which are the entities that sustain life in the body. The same
set of five karmayonis is mentioned in the tattvasamaasa too, a text that is
believed to have preserved a number of pre-kaarikaa notions in saa.mkhya.
The yuktidiipikaa is undoubtedly a mine of information in this regard, which
would make this text highly pertinent to the proto-saa.mkhya background of
the Gita.

> >How about sustenance?
>As an English term for what Sankara is referring to, yes. But for dh.rti in
>BhG 13.6, I doubt it. Because of its juxtaposition with cetanaa, I would
>prefer to go by the meaning obviously intended in 18.29-33 (where it is
>similarly juxtaposed with buddhi); and then to conjecture the meaning of
>sa.mghaata based on the other two words. That is, unless I can find

Seems to me that you should also take 18.34-35 into account, as both buddhi
and dh.rti can be colored differently by sattva, rajas and tamas, which are
after all, characteristics of prak.rti.

However, one must distinguish between dh.rti in 18.33-35 from dh.rti in
18.43, where it is just one of the marks of the k.satriya Similarly,
one must distinguish between buddhi as a specific organ (which is material)
and buddhi in the general sense of knowledge or awareness or judgment. The
sense of 13.6 points to both cetanaa and dh.rti as things that may be
subtle, but are material nonetheless.

Best wishes,

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