Bhagavad-gita As It Is 2.16, version 1 versus version 2. Version 1 wins!

BGAII 2.16 Version one:

“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent there is no endurance, and of the existent there is no cessation. This seers have concluded by studying the nature of both.”

BGAII 2.16 Version two:

“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.”


Here we note that the 1983 editor attempts to restrict the meanings of the “nonexistent” and the “eternal” by reserving these two words respectively for the designation of the body and the soul. He wants us to believe that “the nonexistent” refers exclusively to the material body and “the eternal” refers to the soul only etc, etc…Such narrow interpretation is conspicuous by its absence in previous Bhagavad-gita As It Is version 1. Why would the reader require to be (mis) guided in such a way? It feels like patronizing, as well as undue influence. In the purport and in a broader sense Srila Prabhupada writes simply that “nonexistent” means matter and “existent” means spirit. He also states that this is the version of all seers of the truth or “tattva-darsibhih”. So here we get clearly the impression of an unwanted and artificial JDS imposition and a jumping over the head of Guru, as well as all other seers of truth. Unfortunately he reasons ill, as if he were not a seer of the truth.

It may be argued that the only correction required for version 1 is the replacement of “no cessation” with “no change.” “No change” includes “no cessation.” Whereas “no cessation” does NOT include “no change”, which is therefore more comprehensive. Besides that, both word for word versions give “changing quality” as translation of “abhavah”.

Additionally and from a literary point of view, even without being an expert in the Sanskrit language, one may note and appreciate Sri Krishna’s clever and symmetrical wordplay: “nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah.” There is a vertical axis of symmetry just after “bhavo”. “Vidyate” are in symmetry and two sets of opposites are in symmetry as well: nasato-satah and bhavo-nabhavo. Jai Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead! He is supreme in all respects, including the composition of literature.

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