सोऽबिभेत्, तस्मादेकाकी बिभेति; स हायमीक्षां चक्रे, यन्मदन्यन्नास्ति, कष्मान्नु बिभेमीति, तत एवास्य भयं वीयाय्, कस्माद्ध्यभेष्यत्? द्वितीयाद्वै भयं भवति ॥ २ ॥
so’bibhet, tasmādekākī bibheti; sa hāyamīkṣāṃ cakre, yanmadanyannāsti, kaṣmānnu bibhemīti, tata evāsya bhayaṃ vīyāy, kasmāddhyabheṣyat? dvitīyādvai bhayaṃ bhavati || 2 ||
2. He was afraid. Therefore people (still) are afraid to be alone. He thought, ‘If there is nothing else but me, what am I afraid of?’ From that alone his fear was gone, for what was there to fear? It is from a second entity that fear comes.
He, Virāj, who has been presented as the first embodied, being of a human form, was afraid, just like us, says the text. Because this being with a human form, possessing a body and organs, was afraid owing to a false notion about his extinction, therefore, being similarly situated, people to this day are afraid to be alone. And the means of removing this false notion that caused the fear, was, as in our case, the right knowledge of the Self. He, Virāj, thought, ‘If there is nothing else but me, no other entity but myself to be my rival, what am I afraid of, for there is nothing to kill me?’ From that right knowledge of the Self alone his, Virāj’s fear was clean gone. That fear of Virāj, being due to sheer ignorance, was inconsistent with the knowledge of the Supreme Self. This is what the text.says: For what was there to fear? That is, why was he afraid, since there could be no fear when the truth was known? Because it is from a second entity that fear comes; and that second entity is merely projected by ignorance. A second entity that is not perceived at all cannot certainly cause fear, for the Śruti says, ‘Then what delusion and what grief can there be for one who sees unity?’ (Iś. 7). That his fear was removed by the knowledge of unity was quite proper. Why? Because fear comes of a second entity, and that notion of a second entity was removed by the knowledge of unity; it was nonexistent.
Here some object: What was Virāj’s knowledge of unity due to? And who instructed him? If it came without any instruction, the same might also be true of us. If, however, it was due to the impressions of his past life, then the knowledge of unity would be useless. As Virāj’s knowledge of unity acquired in his past life, although it was present, did not remove the cause of his bondage, ignorance—for being born with that ignorance, he was afraid—so the knowledge of unity would be useless in the case of everybody. Should it be urged that the knowledge prevailing at the last moment only removes ignorance, our answer is that it cannot be laid down as a rule, since ignorance may appear again just as it did before. Therefore we conclude that the knowledge of unity serves no useful purpose.
Reply: Not so, for, as in the world, his knowledge sprang from his perfected birth. That is to say, as we see that when a person has been born with a select body and organs as a result of his past merits, he excels in knowledge, intelligence and memory, similarly Virāj, having burnt all his evils which produce qualities the very opposite of righteousness, knowledge, dispassion and lordship, had a perfected birth in which he was possessed of a pure body and organs; hence he might well have the knowledge of unity even without any instruction. As the Smṛti says, ‘The Lord of the universe is born with these four virtues—infallible knowledge, dispassion, lordship and righteousness’ (Vā. I. i. 3).
Objection:” If he was born with those virtues, he could not have fear. Darkness never appears with the sun.
Reply: Not so, for the expression, ‘He is born with these virtues,’ means that he is not instructed about them by others.
Objection: In that case qualities like faith, devotion and prostration (to the teacher) cease to be the means of knowledge. The Gītā, for instance, says, ‘One who has faith and devotion and controls one’s senses attains knowledge’ (G. IV. 39), and ‘Know it through prostration’ (G. IV. 34). There are other texts from the Śrutis as well as Smṛtis which prescribe similar means for knowledge. Now, if knowledge is due to the merits of one’s past life, as you say was the case with Virāj, then the above means become useless.
Reply: No, for there may be differences as regards the means such as their alternation or combination, efficacy or inefficacy. We observe in life that effects are produced from various causes, which may operate singly or in combination. Of these causes operating singly or in combination, some may be more efficacious than others. Let us take a single instance of an effect produced from various causes, say, the perception of form or colour: In the case of animals that see in the dark, the connection of the eye with the object alone suffices, even without the help of light, to cause the perception. In the case of Yogins the mind alone is the cause of it. While with us, there is a combination of causes such as the connection of the eye with the object, and light, which again may vary according as it is sunlight or moonlight, and so on. Similarly there would be differences due to that light being of a particular character, strong or feeble, and so on. Exactly in the same way with the knowledge of the unity of the Self. Sometimes the actions of one’s past life are the cause, as in the case of Virāj. Sometimes it is reflection, for the Śruti says, ‘Desire to know Brahman through reflection’ (Tai. III. iii-v. i). Sometimes faith and other things are the only causes of attaining knowledge, as we learn from such Śruti and Smṛti texts as the following: ‘He only knows who has got a teacher’ (Ch. VI. xiv. 2), ‘One who has faith… attains knowledge’ (G. IV. 39), ‘Know it through prostration’ (G. IV. 34), ‘(Knowledge received) from the teacher alone (is best)’ (Ch. IV. ix. 3), ‘(The Self) is to be realised through hearing,’ etc. (II. iv. 5; IV. v. 6). For the above causes remove obstacles to knowledge such as demerit. And the hearing, reflection and meditation on Vedānta texts have a direct relation to Brahman which is to be known, for they are naturally the causes to evoke the knowledge of Reality when the evils, connected with the body and mind, that obstruct it have been destroyed. Therefore faith, prostration and the like never cease to be the means of knowledge.