Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 21

Part 20

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala

6-2-9 Saguna and Nirguna 12(1 to 5)

Sri Krishna has talked about meditation on the Saguna God and Nirguna God. Arjuna wants to know who is better: one who meditates on Saguna or one who meditates on the Immutable and Unmanifest Nirguna. Sri Krishna does not intend to do a comparison. He says that those who constantly worship and meditate on Saguna God with Sraddha are among the best yogis. In the next verse, Sri Krishna says that a devotee of Nirguna God reaches him. He mentions some qualities of a devotee of Nirguna God. He has controlled the sense organs, he is even-minded, and is devoted to the welfare of all beings. He recognizes his very Self as omnipresent, indestructible, eternal, undefinable Brahm. Sri Krishna avoids any comparison because it serves no purpose as there is no option to do one or other. Both are to be done sequentially because it is difficult for a person who is attached to mind and body to worship unmanifest Nirguna God. It requires a mature mind. Worship of Saguna God for sufficient time is necessary for knowing Nirguna God. Sagun God is a means to Nirguna God. Nirguna God is formless and cannot be perceived by sense organs. Self is the same as Nirguna God and abiding in this knowledge is Its worship.

6-2-10 Uprooting world-tree 15(4,5)

A jiva takes birth in this world according to the laws of karma. Out of accumulated karmas in previous lives, a portion fructifies as prarabdha and is the immediate cause of birth. Atma is embodied in a jiva. It is jivatma and provides sentiency to jiva and the sentient jiva transacts in the world. During the transaction, he faces happiness and sorrow. A jiva wants permanent happiness but happiness provided by worldly objects is inherently fleeting. Any experience is temporary and so is the experienced happiness. On the other hand, Atma is of the nature of consciousness and does not change, is infinite and complete. Mind and body are changing and can never be complete. Generally, a human being thinks that he is essentially mind and body and consciousness is an attachment. It is an error. It is Self-ignorance. Crippled by Self-ignorance, he suffers when he transacts in the world.

In chapter 15, the world is compared with a peepul tree and it gives shelter to birds (jivas). The jiva-like bird eats karmic fruits which are bitter and sweet. This is human suffering. If a jiva identifies itself with changeless, infinite, and complete Atma, then the world cannot torment him. Atma is not an agent of action and karmic fruits do not cling to it. Identification with Atma means fresh karmas do not accrue to a jiva. Furthermore, Self-knowledge burns all karmas except prarabdha but it is defanged. Prarabdha is exhausted at the time of death. There is no karmic balance at the time of death. Consequently, there is no birth. It is figuratively said the jivatma merges with the Paramatma. For Self-knowledge, an important requirement is vairagya, i.e., detachment from sense objects. In 15(4), Sri Krishna advises to uproot the peepul tree-like samsar by the vairagya-like sword. All this is at the level of mind. Physically, it is not possible to abandon the world, neither is it necessary. What is required is a paradigm shift in attitude.

6-2-11 Two goals 8(15 to 22)

8(15 to 22) discuss two goals, finite and infinite. Finite goal is moving from birth to death, death to rebirth, and so on. Three purusharthas, viz, wealth, desire, and dharma are finite, and moksha, the fourth purushartha is infinite. Moksha is attained when a person realizes that his real nature is infinite and is not different from the real nature of God. There is no separation between him and God. Moksha is freedom from suffering in the current life and freedom from rebirth. In contrast, by earning sufficient punyas, a person can reach Brahma-loka, the highest finite goal. After enjoying the comforts of Brahma-loka and exhausting punyas, one returns to lower loka and moves in the cycle of birth and death. Brahma-loka is finite because it is subject to time.

A day and a night of Brahmaji constitute one calendar day of Brahmaji which is made of two thousand Maha-Yugas. Though it is a very long period compared to day and night in the human world, it is finite. During his daytime, when Brahmaji is awake, the universe is in manifest form and when he is asleep during the night it is in unmanifest(resolved) form resting in Brahma in potential form. It is again manifested at the dawn of Brahmaji’s day. Thus, the universe has two states: manifest and unmanifest. The universe changes and is subject to time and space. Beyond the unmanifest universe, there is unmanifest Brahm which is changeless and beyond time and space. Rather time and space are within Brahm. A self-realized person is one with God.

6-2-12 Gunatita 7(13 to 15), 14(19 to 26)

6-2-12-1: 7 (13 to 15) In previous verses, Sri Krishna has talked about the nature of God. God has higher and lower natures, namely, the consciousness principle and matter principle. Matter principle has three qualities and consciousness is attribute-free. Matter principle is manifested; consciousness is invisible. An ignorant person is under the influence of three qualities of nature and is not able to comprehend the higher nature of God which is beyond the three qualities and is changeless. Human beings are attracted by thje changing matter principle of three qualities. The other name of the changing matter is maya. It is difficult to get rid of this attraction. It is the main cause of human suffering. God is the master of maya, human being is its slave. Therefore, a person who takes refuge in God is not tempted by the glittering maya. He remains at a safe distance from maya. When a devotee becomes a jnani devotee, he transcends maya. It is not a physical event. It is an attitudinal transformation born of wisdom. He is a Gunatita.

6-2-12-2: 14(19 to 26)

A Gunatita is a Self-realized person. He knows his true nature of witnessing consciousness that is not different from the higher nature of God. As a witnessing consciousness, he is action-free and he knows that action is at the level of matter principle consisting of three qualities. A Self-realized person is not an enjoyer of the result of action and therefore he is detached from worldly suffering. Karma does not cling to him. He is immortal and free from birth and death. He enjoys supreme bliss. Arjuna wants to know the signs of a gunatita and how can one reach its status. Sri Krishna’s answer is simple. A gunatita transcends the gunas. Naturally, he is not affected by any of the three qualities. He is equipoise in all conditions. It is instructive to know the thought process of a Gunatita.
“ ‘In me has arisen a perception which is a result of tamas; thereby I have become deluded’; so also, ‘In me has risen (the inclination to) action which is painful and is born of rajas. By that rajas I have been actuated, carried away from my own nature. This is a matter of sorrow to me that there has been a deviation from my own nature’; similarly, ‘The quality of sattva, in the form of illumination that is knowledge, binds me by attributing discrimination to me and making me attached to happiness’—
(by thinking) in these ways one dislikes them because of his being not fully enlightened. The person who has transcended the qualities does not dislike them in this manner. Unlike a person having sattva etc., who longs for the effects of sattva etc. which withdraw themselves after becoming manifest to him, the person who has gone beyond the qualities does not long for them in that way when they disappear. This is the idea. This is not an indication that can be perceived by others. What then? Since this characteristic is perceivable to oneself, it is merely subjective. For dislike or longing, which is a subjective experience of a person, is not seen by another.” [Bhagavad Gita and Commentary of Shankaracharya published by Advaita Ashrama].

The following are the inferences from the above depictions.
1 It is a misconception that a Gunatita remains in a thoughtless state.
2 Involuntary thoughts of varied types arise in his mind because of vasanas. Self-knowledge removes Self-ignorance but does not remove the vasanas of ignorance in the subconscious.
3 Simultaneously and effortlessly, Self-knowledge triggers a response (thought) that he is a witness of the (involuntary) thoughts and as a witness, he need not like or dislike them as they would die in due course.
4 A seeker who is not a Gunatita (fully enlightened) would respond to thoughts in a manner appropriate for his spiritual progress.

A Gunatita enjoys a healthy mind. He knows that even if he enjoys a healthy mind because of the sadhana, it cannot be 100% perfect. It is subject to fluctuation. He accepts this. Because of his Self-knowledge, he objectively witnesses the movement of the mind and responds according to the demands of the situation. He is neither over-reactive nor passive. Such a response is born of completeness. He operates at two levels. From the absolute level, he is indifferent to the situation, firm and unmoving, and at the transaction level, his action is measured. Remaining established in his Self, he is not distracted and perturbed by the movement of qualities and he is neutral towards worldly joy and sorrow; gold and lump of earth. He treats praise and criticism; friend and foe equally. He has mentally renounced all actions because he has realized his completeness. Sri Krishna has answered the 1st part of Arjuna’s question. The second part is how to reach the status of a Gunatita. One can reach by serving God with unswerving devotion. This devotion is possible for a Self-realized person because he knows that there is no difference between his essential nature and that of God. Knowledge is the highest bhakti and the gateway to freedom from samsara and merger with God.

Contd Pt 22

2 thoughts on “Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 21

  1. Dear Bimal,

    Thank you again for this series, which makes the teaching of the Gita readable and accessible to new seekers.

    One brief point here. Because new seekers will be reading and benefitting from the unfoldment, it is important to beware of potentially misleading statements. Here you say that: “A Self-realized person… is immortal”.

    I know that you have the correct understanding but it is possible that a beginner may conclude that he, the person, will live forever once enlightnened. When I cover such ideas, I usually say something like: “On enlightenment, you realize that you never were a person but are the eternal Brahman”.

    Best wishes,

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