Bhagavad gita 2.16 says

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः।

उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः।।2.16।।

Following is Bhagavadpad Adi Shankracharya's commentary:

न हि शीतोष्णादि सकारणं प्रमाणैर्निरूप्यमाणं वस्तु सम्भवति। विकारो हि सः विकारश्च व्यभिचरति। यथा घटादिसंस्थानं चक्षुषा निरूप्यमाणं मृद्वयतिरेकेणानुपलब्धेरसत् तथा सर्वो विकारः कारणव्यतिरेकेणानुपलब्धेरसन्।


यद्विषया बुद्धिर्न व्यभिचरति तत् सत् यद्विषया व्यभिचरति तदसत् इति सदसद्विभागे बुद्धितन्त्रे स्थिते सर्वत्र द्वे बुद्धी सर्वैरुपलभ्येते समानाधिकरणे न नीलोत्पलवत् सन् घटः सन् पटः सन् हस्ती इति। एवं सर्वत्र। तयोर्बुद्धयोः घटादिबुद्धिः व्यभिचरति। तथा च दर्शितम्। न तु सद्बुद्धिः। तस्मात् घटादिबुद्धिविषयः असन् व्यभिचारात् न तु सद्बुद्धिविषयः अव्यभिचारात्।।

Following is English Translation Of Sri Shankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary By Swami Gambirananda:

Asatah, of the unreal, of cold, heat, etc. together with their causes; na vidyate, there is no; bhavah, being, existence, reality; because heat, cold, etc. together with their causes are not substantially real when tested by means of proof. For they are changeful, and whatever is changeful is inconstant. As configurations like pot etc. are unreal since they are not perceived to be different from earth when tested by the eyes,


That in relation to which the awareness does not change is real; that in relation to which it changes is unreal. Thus, since the distinction between the real and the unreal is dependent on awareness, therefore in all cases (of empirical experiences) everyone has two kinds of awarenesses with regard to the same substratum: (As for instance, the experiences) 'The pot is real', 'The cloth is real', 'The elephant is real' (which experiences) are not like (that of) 'A blue lotus'. [In the empirical experience, 'A blue lotus', there are two awarenesses concerned with two entities, viz the substance (lotus) and the ality (blueness). In the case of the experience, 'The pot is real', etc. the awarenesses are not concerned with substratum and alities, but the awareness of pot,of cloth, etc. are superimposed on the awareness of 'reality', like that of 'water' in a mirage.] This is how it happens everywhere. [The coexistence of 'reality' and 'pot' etc. are valid only empirically according to the non-dualists; whereas the coexistence of 'blueness' and 'lotus' is real according to the dualists.] Of these two awareness, the awareness of pot etc. is inconstant; and thus has it been shown above. But the awareness of reality is not (inconstant). Therefore the object of the awareness of pot etc. is unreal because of inconstancy; but not so the object of the awareness of reality, because of its constancy.

Here is the complete commentary: https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/srimad?language=dv&field_chapter_value=2&field_nsutra_value=16&show_tej=1&httyn=1&htshg=1&scsh=1&setgb=1

In light to this, what I understood is this:

  1. That which changes is asat and which doesn't is sat.
  2. Pot consist of two things; clay and pot form. When pot form is superimposed on clay we get a pot.
  3. The commentary is claiming that pot form is asat because it changes.

Please let me know if my understanding is incorrect.

Now, is the pot form asat?

If yes, then please explain this argument:

Even though the pot might break, the pot form wouldn't change. The pot form is actually imprinted in our mind which remains constant. So, pot form should be sat.

If your answer is no or that we can't say, then please explain what is asat here according to the commentary.

  • Your understanding is absolutely correct. And the para you shared is also true. You only need to focus on change and constant. If today pot is not changing or constant then it is sat as of now, but latter if changes then you can say it is asat. It is only this ignorance which sadhakas has to remove, What is nitya and anitya. Dec 23, 2018 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


Name and form are not sat, they are just Vikara (transformation) or Karya (effect) of Karana (cause). The effect is not different from the cause, it's just the transformation. There is a famous saying वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयं (vācārambhaṇaṃ vikāro nāmadheyaṃ) in Chhandogya Upanishad:

VI-i-4: 'Dear boy, just as through a single clod of clay all that is made of clay would become known, for all modifications is but name based upon words and the clay alone is real;

So, the metaphor of clay and pot is used to explain that the form is nothing but the name given only and in reality the cause is only real. Here the cause i.e clay doesn't change but various forms of pot it appears been modified in are changing and hence not real. So, your understanding is correct.

Talking about your argument of the impression of pot form in mind, that is the different thing. According to RajaYoga, whatever we see and experience in the world creates impressions in our mind which is stored permanently. So, in those words, even particular pot form is destroyed, its impression in the mind is not going to be destroyed. But since whatever we're seeing in the world and the impressions getting stored in the mind are not absolute reality as to attain the absolute truth one has to go beyond the mind so as the true self.

So, the interpretation you said "the pot form is not sat" is right and for the impression of pot form stored in mind is conditionally sat, however ultimately not sat as transformation is only the name based upon words.

  • is clay is mixed with water it turns to mud, but if clay is stripped of moisture it turns to rock. how is clay sat?
    – blue_ego
    Aug 1, 2023 at 23:58

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