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What is it to act just as an apparent cause ('Nimitt Maatr')? || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagavad Gita
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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तस्मात्त्वमुत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व जित्वा शत्रून्भुङ् क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम् ।

मयैवैते निहता: पूर्वमेव निमित्तमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन् ।। 11.33 ।।

tasmāt tvam uttiṣhṭha yaśho labhasva jitvā śhatrūn bhuṅkṣhva rājyaṁ samṛiddham

mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sāchin

Therefore do thou arise and acquire fame. Conquer the enemies, and enjoy the unrivalled dominion. Verily by Myself have they been already slain; be thou merely an apparent cause, O Savyasachin (Arjuna).

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 33

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Questioner (Q): What does it mean to be an apparent cause, ‘Nimitt Maatr’? Who becomes the Nimitt Maatr? Is it the body-mind complex that we think we are? Why should we become Nimitt Maatr? How can we move towards becoming Nimitt Maatr?

In the previous session, you had mentioned that notions like ‘I am the body’, ‘I am the doer’ keep us away from Krishna. How can the notion ‘I am the body’ be eliminated?

Acharya Prashant (AP):

‘Nimitt Maatr’ merely means that your center of operation is no more the personal ego; you are allowing your personal system to be governed by an impersonal power.

Usually, our personal system is run by, commanded by the personal center, and these two go nicely together; the personal system, the body-mind complex being commanded by the personal center, which is called 'the ego'.

Being just an apparent cause in the scheme of things means that the personal complex, the personal system, the personal machinery is now not being driven by something within itself. It is now being driven by something far beyond itself. So, your body is now not being run by the little insecure ‘I’.

What's the problem when the little internal insecure ‘I’ runs the body? The problem is that the ‘I’ is anyway identified with the body; therefore, it cannot be a good driver of the body. If you are the body, then how will you push and drive the body?

Think of it. When you say, “I am the body,” then obviously you are referring to the current state of your body, right? And you are that. Now, really, what incentive do you have now to push the body and make the body do things that the body may not like? After all, you are the body!

And that's the thing with the personal self. It is already the body and already the mind, so why will it want to go against the body and against the mind? The moment the body will be pushed, the internal self will start rebelling and putting excuses, and giving some lame argument, “Oh no, no! My body is weak because, you see, I got some disease five years back!” and all those all kinds of lame nonsense.

Therefore, even the body-mind thing suffers when it is commanded by the wrong master. The ego is a very improper master, very inappropriate master. Remember, you can never teach, educate or correct someone you are dependent on. The ego is dependent on the body; the ego is dependent on the mind. How will then ego make the body do things that the body does not like? How will then the ego make the mind climb to great heights?

When the body will start feeling broken, it is the ego that will feel broken, because the ego is dependent on the body. So you push your body a little—and any great endeavour will require you to push your body—you push your body a little, and the ego will start beating its chest, and crying and clamouring, and immediately your efforts to push the body will come to a halt. Or they will go to some extent, cover some distance, and then they will stop.

The ego can at most tolerate beautifying the body, bettering the body. The ego will be prepared to tolerate the pain that you get when you wax your skin. The ego will be able to tolerate, prepare to tolerate the pain that you get when you hit the gym. But the ego will never be prepared to tolerate submitting the body to a purpose that is not at all bodily. The ego will never tolerate surrendering the body to a great mission that does not care for the body.

What does then it mean to be a ‘Nimitt Maatr’? Just a servant, just a means, just a medium. It means that you are relinquishing a post that you actually anyway never deserved; you are stepping down from a position that actually should have never been yours in the first place. You are saying, “Let the rightful one come and occupy the center of my life. Who am I to act big and smart? Who am I to think for myself and decide for myself? If there is one choice that I can rightfully make, it is to give up my right to choose.” Obviously, it's a tough ask, and that's when you are just a means. Some great thing is happening through you. Some great power is commanding you, and you are now being operated by a will beyond the personal. It is only now that you get the right to say that you are a puppet in the hands of the Ultimate. It is only now that you get the right to say that you are like the flute, or a piece of a hollow bamboo; the wind just flows through you, you do not obstruct it.

Outside you have a body; internally you are free of all resistance. You are just letting the divine operate through you now.

Actually it is not a positive or affirmative statement to say that you are letting the divine operate through you. Practically all that it means is that—you are now no more insistent that your life be run by your personal will. You have given up the seat. Who’s occupying that seat? You are no more bothered. Your duty or your Dharma was to not to occupy a place you do not deserve. You gave up the undeserving place. Now, whatsoever happens, it's wonderful, it's a great thing. And it's a very mysterious thing that—when you are not confined by personal goals and desires, then you become available to a great work, a wonderful mission. That's what Shri Krishna is trying to enrol Arjuna in.

In the event of the Gita, that great mission is the war of Mahabharata. Arjuna is being confined by his personal self, “Oh! He is my personal relation. Oh! He is this, oh my personal memories! Oh! My personal entanglements. Oh! My personal thoughts and concepts. Oh! My personal taboos.” And because of this personal stuff, he is not able to make himself available to Krishna's grand mission. Krishna is saying, “We have a great mission at hand: we have to fight that evil army!” But Arjuna is not available to that mission. Arjuna is available to his own personal stories, “Oh! Once Bhishma used to probably rock my cradle! And Duryodhana ultimately is my brother, and I remember how we used to play together when we were young! What will I do with all the property and the power I get by killing my own kin? What will the world say? And haven't I been taught all this in my moral science class, that emotions are higher than material?”

So, that personal knowledge is not allowing him to fight the Kauravas. This is Arjuna's limited world. The entire exercise of Gita is to rid Arjuna of his personal center. Can Arjuna somehow totally lose his personal self? It is kind of death. You could even say that Krishna is trying to help Arjuna die to his personal and previous self. And that happens. A point comes when Arjuna is available; his interiority is gone. And that interiority is nothing sacred anyway. That interiority that which we call as the ‘inner self’ is just the ego. It is now gone. And now Arjuna is available to fully participate in the war, in the mission. Now Arjuna will fight.

The question, “How can the notion that ‘I am the body’ be eliminated?”

By being a little more sincere. I have answered this question no less than half a dozen times, and at least a couple of times in this course itself. How will you get rid of body identification if you are not prepared to put in even a little bit of hard work? If this is the level of your sincerity, how really do you expect Liberation?

You all keep throwing these questions at me without even bothering to first search whether I have already answered them. Not that I cannot answer them again, it's a delight for me to speak; I can speak, but you will not benefit. You will not benefit, because you have not paid the price.

Participating in the course does not merely mean that you will shoot a question and expect an answer. At least do the basic background research. Here itself, and I remember the name of the questioner also, the same thing in exactly the same words had been asked to me. So go back, spend a little more time, figure out the answers that have already been provided, and then if need be, come back to me. You will now come to me with at least a deeper and enhanced question.

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/gesxCpfbEWs

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