Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt26

Part 25

7 Summary 2(13,15,16,22,46), 4(9,10,15 to 25,35 to 38,41,42), 6(45 to 47), 18 (62 to 66)

7-1: 2(13,15,16,22,46) Fear of death is common. Death happens when the subtle body leaves the gross body making it insentient. The subtle body has the property to manifest consciousness which the gross body lacks. Sri Krishna says that death is a change of state like a change from childhood to youth, youth to old age, and from old age to death. After leaving the gross body at the time of death, the subtle body takes up a new gross body. It is rebirth as an infant. This transmigration of the subtle body is blessed by the all-pervasive Atma. In this sense, it is said that as a man discards worn-out clothes and wears new clothes, Atma discards the old body and takes up a new body. Knowing this cycle, a wise person is not deluded. Life is a flow and changes are inherent, such as hot-cold, pleasure-pain. It is a choiceless situation. As such, a person should endure them and need not unnecessarily suffer from agony and mental disturbance. He can then take up the spiritual path, gain knowledge, and be liberated.

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Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 4.26.1

If we have read the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, we may have come across the mention of a rishi named Vamadeva, who is said, upon realising Brahman, to have “become Manu and Surya”. They feature in 1.4.10,

In the beginning, Brahman was this. It knew only itself: “I am Brahman.” Through that it became all. Whichever of the devas woke up to it became that; whichever of the rishis, likewise; whichever of human beings, likewise. Seeing that, the rishi Vamadeva realised:  “I have become Manu and Surya too.” 

Why was Vamadeva’s statement considered significant enough to include and explain in the Upanishad? How does saying he has “become Manu and Surya” signify realisation of Brahman?

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 25

Part 24

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala
6-2-18 Glory of knowledge 3(43), 4 (1 to 3), 7(1 to 3), 9(1,2), 14(1,2
) 3(42) describes Self as the most subtle and beyond intellect. 3(43) says that armed with the knowledge of Self and by controlling the mind with reason, enemy-like desire can be killed which is otherwise very difficult to overcome. In 4(1 to 3), Sri Krishna says that He gave this knowledge to Sun and then it passed on to Manu to Iksvaku and other royal sages, Unfortunately, with the lapse of time, it was lost and through Arjuna He is reviving it. He glorifies this knowledge. It is ultimate and supreme. On gaining this knowledge, there is nothing left to be known because by this knowledge, a person is fully satisfied, is complete, and transcends the worldly life of pairs of opposites and duality. He is free from the cycle of birth and death. It is a secret knowledge. One among thousands strives to gain it, and only a handful of seekers are successful in getting and assimilating it.

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Vedanta and Hard Problem of Consciousness

Science regards matter as the most fundamental entity and that life is also a product of matter. Life is represented by breath. There is a saying that till breath is there, there is life. Breath is one of the five Pranas (vital forces). Pranas are insentient. That life is a product of matter is accepted by Vedanta also. As regards consciousness, the prevalent scientific view is that it is an epiphenomenon, that is to say, consciousness arises in a complex organism. In other words, it is also a product of matter. This view is confronted by what is called the Hard Problem of Consciousness. Science says that consciousness and therefore firsthand experience are produced by the brain. David Chalmer differs and says that subjective experience is not an outcome of the firing of neurons in the brain. This is the hard problem of consciousness. Hard Problem of Consciousness – David Chalmers (

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Q.550 – Alzheimer’s and Self-knowledge

A: As I intimated in the answer to Q. 383, you have to differentiate between paramārtha and vyavahāra. In reality, there is only Brahman. There is only the appearance of people and world. They are mithyā. Their real substrate is Brahman.

We appear to have a body-mind and that body-mind is subject to disease, decay and death. This applies equally to the body-mind of the jñānī. The difference between the jñānī and the ajñānī is that the former knows that the body-mind is mithyā, while the latter doesn’t. Just as the body may suffer disease or even lose parts through accident, so the brain also is subject to illness and deterioration. Since the mind is associated with the brain, if the brain suffers loss, the mind will also. The memory may deteriorate or fail completely. This is the case irrespective of whether the jīva had previously gained Self-knowledge.

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 24

Part 23

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala
6-2-17 Jnani is the greatest devotee 7(16 to 30), 8(14,15), 12(13 to 20) 6-2-17-1: 7(16 to 20), 8(14,15
Sri Krishna classifies his devotees in four categories depending on their motives. They are (1) Arthi: Crisis bhakta who worships in the time of crisis for removal of the crisis. The motive is removal of crisis (dukkha-nivriti). It is natural and is inculcated from childhood. There are many examples in Indian mythology where a jiva in distress has called the God in crisis and the God has responded to the call. (2) Artharthi: He does not need a crisis for bhakthi. He worships God for making his worldly transactions successful so that he gets happiness. The motive is to gain material benefits (sukha-prapti). God is a means, not an end. He does not worship purely out of love and devotion. Once the end is accomplished, means are often given up. (3) Seeker (jignasu): One who is interested in knowing and reaching God. God is not a means but an end. His devotion is selfless. He does not worship God for Artha and Kama or punya. His devotion is of middle level. (4) Knower (jnani): He has discovered the true nature of God-both higher and lower. He knows that the God is not away from him. There is no separation between God and him. He is the highest devotee. God is neither a means nor an end. He is siddha, i.e., accomplished as ‘I’.

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Q. 549 – Consciousness is all there is

A: But it is not Consciousness that is thinking about these things, is it? You are confusing absolute reality (which is Consciousness right now and there is no second thing etc.) with the obvious (to perception) world and thoughts that are in front of you (the jīva) right now. It is the apparent dichotomy between these that has to be rationalized by the mind, with the help of Advaita. Again, the concept of cidābhāsa is helpful here.

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Q. 548 – God and germs

A: God is not ‘in the  human body’. The human body is name and form of Brahman. Similarly, bacteria are name and form of Brahman. There is ONLY Brahman in reality.

At the level of appearance (world etc.), God (Īśvara ) provides an interim explanation of the laws that govern the seeming creation.  One of these laws is that bacteria can infect bodies and affect their working, even to the extent of ‘killing’ them. But God, bodies and bacteria do not exist as separate entities in reality. They are all Brahman.

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Q.547 – Māyā an attribute of Brahman?

A (Martin): Maya is not an attribute of Brahman. Maya is a diffuse, or polyvalent, concept which gives rise to much confusion, particularly by translating it as ‘illusion’ (see below). This concept can be viewed from the psychological, epistemological, and ontological perspectives.

Purely from the standpoint of Shankara’s  Advaita Vedanta, Maya is tied in with the concept of ‘ignorance’ (avidya), which is prior to it; that is, avidya is the necessary condition for Maya. Once ignorance has been annihilated by knowledge, Maya disappears. That means that from the higher (of two) points of view, Maya does not exist. This is contrary to most post-Shankara authors, with the exception of Sureshvara, who taught that Maya is a positive entity or force. If that were the case, how could a positive entity be removed by knowledge? Swami Satchidanandendra, practically alone in the 20th Cent. has defended the former, Shankarian position.

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Advaita in the Vedas – meaning of samudra

We don’t have to dive deep into Advaita to come across the imagery of a drop of water and the ocean or many rivers flowing back to the sea. Whilst it is more prominent now, we find the same idea in classic literature,

Just as flowing rivers go down into the sea,
Leaving name and form behind,
The one who knows, freed from name and form,
Reaches the highest Supreme Self.
— Mundaka Upanishad [1]

The meaning is clear — the rivers are likened to name and form and the sea to the Supreme Self. When Advaita is realised, there is the vanishing of name and form, which is the rivers flowing back to the sea. This is very common imagery for illustrating the truth. What we may not know is that it also features in the Vedas. Continue reading