Krishna deals with Atma Vidya ( Self-knowledge) from three angles- Philosophical, ethical & worldly. First is the philosophical approach. The frank and plain statement of Krishna to Arjuna is Na thvaevaahum jaanu naasam na thvam naemae janaadhipaa: Na chaiva na bhavishyaama: sarvae vayamatha: param 2.12 “I was not there in the past. You were not there. Those kings were not there”. (Such an idea) is not true. “All of us will not exist in the future”. (This is ) also not true. Chinmayananda’s words are relevant, here: “The endless parade of things and beings, issues forth from the womb, clash, grapple, embrace, play and then sink to be formless and nameless in the graves of their death. This is ever taking place in the Infinite Consciousness and the many varied manifestations are but Its own expressions. Waves arise, they play and die away. But the ocean remains the same.” Let us see ths comparison. If a pot breaks, the space inside it continues to be there. Thus after we die, Atma remains an eternal entity. This is the idea. Similarly, we were non-existent; on the contrary, surely, we too existed. So too, we shall not cease to exist, but continue to be in the future also, after the body disintegrates. The idea is that in all three divisions of time we (Atma) are eternal as identical with the Self. The plural in Vayam sarvae - all of us refers to difference in respect of bodies; it does not point to a plurality of Selves. We have a concept that everyone is born and we know that we were born at a given time. We take this to mean that there was, before that, a time we were not. We also think, we are getting old, we are going to die and so on. This notion is going to be there as long as we think, we are born. In the Gita vision, there is no such thing as the birth of you! “Atma – I am” is not born. Only the nama rupa – body-mind complex is born. It is also not true to think, we did not exist before. Atma is timeless and eternal. Similarly we lament that we will die and not exist later. This is also not true. As an individual (jiva) or Atma, we definitely exist The jivatva, individuality may not exist, but as Atma you will always exist. There is plurality only with reference to physical bodies and not from the standpoint of “Atma, the Self”. Atmas are not many; there is only one Atma. Atma is not subject to time, being without form and attributes. Atma is the very basis, the adishtana of time and therefore Nithya. There are many people (forms called upadhis), but Atma is one. Atma is one whole awareness (Chaitanyam) not bound by time. In that awareness alone, is my mind, your mind or any other mind. These minds differ as do the bodies. When we count the bodies, there are many but not from the stand point of awareness (Chith or chaitanyam). Thus the negation of the notion is necessary. Krishna thus removes from Arjuna the notion of his being time-bound, by saying that Atma is nithya. Again, Atma is eternal does not mean it has a long, long life. Instead, the concept of Atma being timebound is knocked off. By saying “ There was never a time when I, you or anyone else was not. Nor will there be a time when we will not be, Atma being timeless”, Krishna does this. Since we cannot cry for timeless, Atma is not a cause for sorrow (asochya). Anatma alone is subject to anithya. If we want to stop this minute, it is not possible and it is gone. Therefore crying for this minute is foolish. So, both Atma and anatma are ashochya. Anything time bound is always so. We cannot expect consistence from something whose very nature is change. If we are aggrieved because something that changes by nature, is non constant, then what we need is proper understanding of the nature of Atma and anatma, neither of which is a matter for sorrow. Either way you take it, this fact remains. Therefore the first line of verse 12 becomes more and more true as our understanding of atma and anatma increases. Love, Chithra.