Thursday, March 02, 2006

Gita: Bhakti Yoga - Verse 3 and 4

Hari Aum

Prostrations to my Guru and Prostrations to all

Word meaning:
Ye: who
Tu: verily
Aksharam: imperishable
Anirdeshyam: the indefinable
Avyaktam: the unmanifested
Paryupaasatae: worship all the time
Sarvatragam: the Omnipresent
Achintyam: the unthinkable
Cha: and
Kutastham: the unchangeable
Achalam: the immovable
Dhruvam: the eternal

Samniyamya: having restrained
Indriya graamam: the senses organs
Sarvatra: everywhere
samayuDhayaha: even-minded
te: they
praapnuvanti: obtain
maam eva: only me
sarva Bhootha hithae: in the welfare of all beings
rataaha: rejoicer.

“Those who worship the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifest, the omnipresent, the unthinkable, the Unchangeable, the Immovable and the Eternal”
“Having restrained all the senses, even-minded everywhere, rejoicing ever in the welfare of all beings – verily they also come unto Me.”

In the previous sloka the essential conditions required for the devotee to contemplate on the manifested god is told by Krishna and in these two verses he gives the condition for the devotee to contemplate on the Unmanifested god. Here in the sloka the description of that Unmanifested god or the Nirguna Brahman is told by Krishna

Aksharam – imperishable: anything that has form will perish at one point in time, nirguna Brahman has got no qualities and hence cannot perish. Anything that has qualities can be perceived but that which doesn’t have any qualities are beyond the perception.

Anirdeshyam – the indefinable: anything that can be perceived through the sense organs alone can be defined. That which is beyond all the sense organs cannot be defined

Sarvatragam – the omnipresent: the nirguna Brahman is the Supreme Cause for that which seems to be manifested. The cause will always pervade the effect and hence the Supreme Cause pervades the effect as the substratum. All that seems to exist, exist in Brahman.

Achintyam – unthinkable: if a mind perceives something, it becomes an object. Any object is prone to perish but Brahman is imperishable and that which is the subject cannot be thought of.

Kutasthaha – Unchanging: Brahman is the substratum of the seemingly appearing world. Therefore that which is the substratum stays as the mere witness of the changing world without getting affected. Kuta means anvil. When the hammer strikes the anvil, it remains without any change but allows the iron rod to get changed.

Achalam – Immovable: anything that is limited by space alone moves. Space is all-pervading, there is no place where is no space. Since space pervades all places it is immovable. In the similar way since Brahman all-pervading it is immovable.

Dhruvam – eternal: Brahman is imperishable, which is substratum is eternal as well. Eternal is that which exist beyond time and space. Brahman is the substratum in the seemingly appearing world and hence it is all-pervading, since the world exist in Brahman it is beyond time also as substratum was there before the creation of the world, even when the world is seen and even if the world vanishes. In the rope-snake example, when the snake is seen in the rope, even before the snake is seen the rope existed, even when the snake is seen the rope exist and even after the perception of the snake vanishes the rope exist. Thus the snake that is seen is only an illusion in the rope which is substratum. In the similar way Brahman is the substratum for the world and hence the world that is seen is only an illusion in the Reality.

There are many srutti quotes to support this description of the Nirguna Brahman.

Isavasya Upanishad says,
“sa paryagaat sukram akaayam avrinam
Asna viram shuddham apaapavidham
Kavihi manisheehi paribooh suyamboohu
Yaathaathathyatho arthaan shashvatheebyaha samaabhyaha”

Brahman is all-pervading, self-luminous, without subtle body, without wounds, without sinews, pure (without ignorance), without any sin, seer beyond the time and space, controller of the mind, above all, that is self-existent. The Self or He has allotted duties rightly to the eternal creators (during the start of creation).

Mandukya Upanishad says that,

“naanthaha prajnam nabahishprajnam na ubhyayathaha prajnam
na prajnaanaGhanam na prajnam naaprajnam
adhrishtyam avyavahaariyam agraahyam alakshnam
achintyam avyapadeshyam ekathma pratyayasaaram
prapancha upashamam shaantham shivam advaitam
chathurtham manyanthae sa aathma sa vijnaeyaha”

“It is not that which is conscious of the internal subjective world, nor that which is conscious of the external world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor which is mass of consciousness, nor that which is simple consciousness nor is it unconsciousness. It is unseen by any sense-organ, beyond empirical dealings, incomprehensible by the mind, uninferable, unthinkable, indescribable, essentially by of the Self alone, negation of all phenomena, the peaceful, the auspicious and the non-dual. This is what is considered as the fourth Turiya. This is the Atman and this is to be realized.”

Upasana: Shankara in his commentary says “Upasana, meditation, means approaching an object of meditation as presented by the scriptures, and making it an object of one's own thought and dwelling on it uniterruptedly for long by continuing the same current of thought with regard to it-like a line of pouring oil.”

Krishna the characteristics of those bhaktas who worship the unmanifested Brahman.

Having restrained all the senses: By nature the sense organs are extroverted. That extroverted senses cannot apprehend the nirguna Brahman because Brahman is the subject. Therefore one has to turn the mind inward by controlling the senses. The basic desire of everyone is happiness, but that happiness which the sense organs bring are not permanent and hence will go away in one point of time because any object which we experience through the sense organs are only limited and the limited objects can give only limited pleasure. That which is Real, which is eternal alone can give eternal bliss. Brahman alone is Real and that which is of the nature of Bliss alone can give eternal Bliss. To contemplate on Brahman one has to control all the senses and have to turn the mind extroverted mind inward.

Always equanimous: The seeker has to see equanimity in all the situations and in all conditions. When the mind and the sense organs are withdrawn from the external world, the mind will be able to contemplate effectively on the nirguna Brahman. Whatever that is perceived through our sense organs is only Brahman as Brahman is the substratum of everything. When the person sees the Self in all the beings then there will no discrimination at all. There will be nothing that can give sorrow and there is nothing that can delude one as there is only Self that will be seen. Shankara interprets this as “being even-minded-the even-minded are those whose minds remain equipoised in getting anything desirable or undesirable”.

In Isavasya Upansishad ,
“yasthu sarvaani bhoothaani aathmanayevaanupashyathi
sarvaBhoothaeshu cha aathmaanam thatho na vijugupsathae”

“He who sees the all beings in the Self itself and the Self in all beings, feels no hatred by virtue of this realization.”

Intent on the welfare of all beings: knowing that everything is Brahman alone, one has to work for the welfare of all the beings.

Reach me alone: when there is constant contemplation on the unmaniefested which is the substratum of all that is existing, which Imperishable, Unchanging, by control of the sense organs and by equanimity to all the situations will realize ones own nature as the Ultimate Reality of Brahman. Thus “reach me alone” means here realizing the ones nature of Brahman. The knower of Brahman verily becomes Brahman says one of the Upanishad “Brahmavit Brahmaiva Bhavati”. Therefore the Bhakti finally converge in Jnaana only.

Hari Aum



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