Pandit Motilal Shastri Memorial Lecture 2022 and Rishi Samman

``Ultimate Dialogue is dialogue with self``

Lecture on Rishi Kumar Mishra’s The Ultimate Dialogue
By Prof. Kapil Kapoor

In essence, The Ultimate Dialogue is the dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, said Prof. Kapil Kapoor, noted linguist, in his address at the Pandit Motilal Shastri Memorial Lecture on September 28, 2022. Prof. Kapoor was also honoured with Rishi Samman, an award instituted by Shri Shankar Shikshayatan to honour Sanskrit and Vedic scholars who have dedicated their life to the study of veda vijnana.

Shri Shankar Shikshayatan organises the lecture to honour Shastriji on the birth anniversary of its founder, Rishi Kumar Mishra. Mishraji was the chosen disciple of Shastriji.

Standing in Kurukshetra, Arjuna, who all along was eager to engage in a war with Kauravas, was paralysed by a dilemma, became sad and had several questions haunting him. He asked 21 questions to Bhagwan Krishna and if minor questions were also to be included, it would amount to 25 questions in all. If we were to study these questions and their answers, we can understand the deep meaning of Bhagavad Gita. These 21 questions are contained in 700 slokas, 18 chapters and 18 yoga.

Prof Kapoor explains Arjuna’s dilemma on whether jnana was superior to karma, and if so, he asks Bhagwan Krishna, if jnana was so superior, then why do you ask me to carry out such a heinous act. Bhagwan replies--Jnana is no different from karma. Jnana is also karma. Jnana itself is karma. If that were the case, why does Bhagwan persuade Arjun to follow the path of karma.

Mishraji has vividly explained the meaning of two important terms, buddhi and mana. Mana as sankalp-vikalp, resolution and doubt, and buddhi as nirnayatmaka or decisive. There is a relationship between karma and jnana. Adi Shankaracharya has explained these terms in his Vivekachudamani. Of these paths, if we have to choose one, which path should we take? Which path should Arjuna take? Bhagwan replied that he should take the path of karma. It is superior because jnana is dependent on karma.

How do you understand this? In universal consciousness (chetana), three elements are present, they are in conflict and in fusion. These elements are jnana, karma and buddhi. When these elements, despite conflict and tension, merge, they become consciousness. This consciousness makes us realise that the differences we witness are virtual but not in reality it is a continuous, unbroken existence; there are no differences. In bhedha buddhi, we see only objects. But when we rise above them, we can witness their relationship with each other.

Prof. Kapoor posed that the basic question in Bhagavad Gita revolved around us and them. It is related to anekta or plurality. If Brahma is one, how can Brahma be present in all of us. In our culture, many wisemen have contemplated this question. We can see the differences but not the one unit from where it all emerges. Like waves, droplets and froth in a river are all but water, the whole universe is the elliptical shaped product of Brahman.

Other speakers who spoke on the occasion included prof. Omnath Vimli who dwelt on the meaning of ultimate dialogue.

The meeting was coordinated by Dr Mani Shankar Dwivedi and Dr Lakshmi Kant Vimal of Shri Shankar Shikshayatan.