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Spiritual column: Gita Acharan -18

By K Siva Prasad- 14 Jun 2020
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Krishna says Sat (reality/permanence) never ceases to be and Asat (unreal/impermanence) has no existence. A 'Gyani' is one who can distinguish between the two.

The rope and snake analogy is often quoted in many cultures to understand the intricacies of 'Sat' and 'Asat'. A man reached back home at dusk and found a snake coiled at the entrance to his home. But in reality it was a rope left by children, that looked like a snake in the semi-darkness. Here the rope signifies Sat and the snake, 'Asat' . Until he realises Sat i.e. the rope, he is likely to adopt many strategies to handle Asat i.e. imagined snake. He could attack it with a stick (fight), run away (flight) or try to light a torch to check out the reality. The best strategies and skills would go in vain when our perception is that of Asat .

'Asat' derives its existence from 'Sat' , just as the snake doesn't exist without the rope. Since 'Asat' owes its existence to 'Sat', it can influence us like a nightmare which can make our body react as if it were sweating in sleep. 

A litmus test given by Krishna to identify 'Asat' is; that 'which didn't exist in the past and wouldn't be there in the future'. If we take the example of sensual pleasure, it wasn't there before and wouldn't be there after some time. The same is the case with pain and for that matter all polarities. The indication is that 'Asat' exists in time whereas 'Sat' is eternal.

The 'Sat' is the inner self which is eternal and 'Ahankaar' is Asat which sustains itself with the support of the inner self. The day we discover our inner self (rope), the 'Ahankaar' (snake) automatically disappears.

(Author K Siva Prasad is 1993 batch IAS officer, Punjab cadre)

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