Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt17

Part 16

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

6-2-1 Atma 2(17 to 25, 29,30) 3(27,42)
A human being is a mixture of inert matter and consciousness. Consciousness is very subtle. Sense organs are superior to the gross body, the mind is superior to the organs, and intellect is superior to the mind. However, consciousness is innermost and the subtlest as compared to all the objects of perception ending with the intellect and is its witness. Consciousness provides sentiency to the mind and body which are otherwise inert and incapable of any function. Self is consciousness and is the true nature of a jiva. It is the real ‘I’.

Sri Krishna, in a series of verses, describes the Self and instructs Arjuna to overcome the grief that has arisen due to his mistaken notion that the Self perishes. The same Self is in everybody and is indestructible. Destruction at death is of the gross body. Mind is the subtle body and it together with impressions formed on it transmigrates with the help of the embodied Self and assumes a different body according to the laws of karma. Self is immutable. In this view, there is no scope to grieve even if one’s gross body is killed. Only an ignorant person is prone to wrong thinking that Self is killed or kills any other person. Self never dies, it is unborn, eternal, and unchanging.

Sri Krishna questions Arjuna how a knower of this truth can think of killing anyone or being killed by any other person. He explains it by a metaphor. As a person casts away worn-out clothes and wears new clothes, the subtle body supported by the Self assumes a new gross body when the existing body wears out and falls at death. Neither weapon cuts Self nor fire burns It, nor water moistens It, and nor air dries It. It is eternal, omnipresent, immutable, unmoving, and changeless. It is unmanifest, incomprehensible. Having known thus, Arjuna ought not to grieve.

Some visualize the Self as a wonder; some talk of It as a wonder; and some hear of It as a wonder. and some do not realize It even after hearing about It. The idea is that the Self is difficult to understand. The Lord affirms that the Self at the individual level is identical to Brahman at a cosmic level. Mind-body is part of nature of which there are three qualities, sattva, rajas, and tamas. Atma pervades the mind and body but a wise person knows that the Self is not tainted by the mind-body system and is beyond the three qualities.

Even though the Self is not engaged in the activities of the body and organs, It appears engaged in action due to identification of the Self with mind-body due to ignorance. It remains as a witness and never dissuades them. For an ignorant person, qualities of the mind-body system appear to be that of the Self. While actions are being done in every way by the qualities of nature, one who is deluded by egoism thinks that the Self is a doer. He imagines the characteristics of the mind and body to be his own, has self-identification with them, and owing to ignorance, believes the activities to be his, i.e., ‘I am the doer of activities. The action of the Self is self-contradictory. It will mean that the Self is an enjoyer and karma taints It. This ignorance is the cause of the birth of a jiva.

6-2-2 Brahman, Para-Prakriti 7(4 to 7), 8(3,20 to 22), 9(4 to 6), 14(27), 15(6,12 to 18),18(61)

6-2-2-1: 7(4 to 7) Since ancient times, mankind has been interested in knowing God and its nature. Sri Krishna explains the same. There are two principles of God. They are known by different names in the scriptures. Para-prakriti is the higher principle and Apara-prakriti is the lower principle. They share common and uncommon features. Both are beginningless and eternal, not created or destroyed. They have distinguishing features. Para Prakriti is consciousness principle, Apara-prakriti is matter-principle and is inert. Consciousness is not subject to modifications whereas matter is subject to modifications. Consciousness is attribute-free, matter has attributes. Consciousness is independent and exists on its own; matter borrows existence from consciousness. Though consciousness is the Absolute reality, it cannot be experienced. Matter is experienced but has relative reality as it borrows existence from consciousness. It is mithya.

Consciousness is Brahman. During creation, Apara-prakriti transforms into five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and space at a cosmic level. The important thing is that consciousness does not undergo any modification, yet in its presence, creation unfolds. Thus, consciousness sustains the creation. It is important to know the higher aspect of God. Though consciousness is not experienced directly it sustains the creation and exists in every experience. To experience consciousness, another consciousness would be needed. It would lead to the fallacy of infinite regress. It means that there is only one consciousness. Consciousness pervades the whole creation. It manifests in living things because they have subtle bodies. A stone does not manifest consciousness because it has no subtle body. It manifests the existence principle which is the same as the consciousness principle. A jiva is a conscious entity. It has consciousness. This consciousness is the Self (Atma) of the Jiva. Embodied Atma is jivatma.

There is nothing superior to Para-prakriti because it is responsible for creation, sustenance, and dissolution like a string holding the beads of a garland. In the absence of string, there is no existence of garland. The string is in and through the garland. Para-prakti is inherent in the creation. A seeker of truth will do well to appreciate and assimilate the glory of the higher nature of God.

6-2-2-2: 8(3,20 to 22)
In chapter 8, in response to Arjuna’s question, Sri Krishna renames the immutable Para-prakriti as Brahman Earlier in chapter 7, Apara-prakriti has been talked about as unmanifest and rests in Brahman in potential form. Apara-prakriti unfolds as creation. Both Brahman and Apara-prakriti are unmanifest. But Brahman is beyond Apara-prakriti. Brahman is beyond time, space, and causation and is immortal. For a jiva, Brahman is the supreme goal because on knowing Brahman, a jiva too becomes immortal and crosses the cycle of birth and death. A jiva can know Brahman by one-pointed devotion which means that God should be the only goal of life.

6-2-2-3: 9(4 to 6) Sri Krishna reiterates the pervasiveness of the unmanifest Brahman. It creates and supports the creation. Brahman has three aspects (not attributes), namely, pure consciousness, pure existence, and infiniteness. They represent the same reality depending on how they are looked at. As pure existence, it is the substratum of the creation. All beings from Brahmaji to clumps of grass exist in Brahman Even though Brahman pervades all beings, it is contactless and, in this sense, Brahman does not exist in anything. A thing that has no contact with anything cannot exist like something contained in a receptacle. It is God ‘s yoga-maya. Pure existence does not need any other support to exist. Brahman is support-free support. That Brahman is unmanifest means It is attribute-free and cannot be perceived by sense organs. Though Brahm is pervasive, It is not contained in the creation.

Verse 9(5) makes a seemingly contradictory statement that the objects of the world do not rest in Brahman The world is a lower-order reality as it has no independent existence. In this view, though the world rests in Brahman, it is non-existent (being a lower reality).
From a jiva’s viewpoint, the world is existent and from Brahman’s standpoint, the world is non-existent. Due to this, creation is called mithya. There is no equivalent English word of mithya. Mithya means it has no separate existence apart from Brahman.

Brahman is the creator, sustainer of the world and in which the world resolves and rests in potential form. Brahman is like a waking state to the dream state-like world. Brahmam is also compared to space as every object is in space. But space is not contaminated by the objects. It remains untainted and pure. Polluted water and air do not pollute the space. Similarly, though Brahman pervades the creation, It is not affected by the world. A modern-day example is of screen on which a movie is played. The screen pervades and supports the movie, yet it remains as it is.

14.27: In verse 14.27 of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna declares Himself to be the personification of Brahman, which is eternal, immutable, without beginning or end, and the epitome of infinite bliss. This divine joy is unlike the fleeting pleasures of the world, which are temporary and limited. Bliss is not an attribute of Brahman; it is its very essence. To attain this state, one must lead a life of righteousness, cultivate mental purity, and complete the journey of knowledge, or jnana sadhana. The happiness derived from worldly experiences is merely a minuscule reflection of Brahman’s boundless joy. 

Consciousness shines autonomously and shines in every sensory input. Those who possess knowledge of  Brahman are freed from the shackles of their actions and do not undergo rebirth in the worldly domain. Brahman pervades all aspects of creation, including the sun, the moon, and the fire. To remove any doubts, it is affirmed that the radiance seen in the sun, moon, and fire is an expression of Brahman’s brilliance.

6-2-2-6: 15(13 to 18) The way that Brahman sustains creation varies according to the Upanishads. Brahman projects the world through  Its maya power, then figuratively ‘enters’ into creation, sustaining it by providing nourishment to the plant kingdom through juices. ‘Enters’ is metaphorical since consciousness is all-encompassing. Sustaining creation implies that without the witnessing consciousness, the world’s existence cannot be verified. The digestive fire within the stomach processes four types of food with the aid of vital forces. This digestive fire is supported by consciousness in its function. Similarly, vital forces require the backing of consciousness to operate.

The glory of Brahman is proclaimed. It dwells in the hearts of all beings. The mind, which gains knowledge and retains memories, is inert and cannot perform these functions without consciousness’s support. Although Brahman is beyond objectification and not an object of knowledge, the Vedas are considered a valid means to know Brahman. In this context, Brahman is acknowledged as the subject of knowledge within the Vedas. As the principle of knowing, Brahman is the knower of the Vedas. Sri Krishna speaks of Brahman’s higher and lower natures. The lower nature is Prakriti, referred to as maya because it emanates from Brahman through its power of maya. Maya represents Prakriti in an unmanifested form and serves as a repository for the impressions of desires, actions, etc., from countless evolving and transient beings. In a limited sense, maya is deemed imperishable and unchanging. Beyond both manifest prakriti and unmanifest maya lies immutable Brahman. Whether as unmanifest maya or manifest prakriti, both reside within immutable Brahman, which is the source and pervader of creation and also the Self within every being. To extol Brahman, the Vedas refer to it as the Supreme Person or Purushottam.

6-2-2-7: 18(61) The scriptures state that the locus of the mind is the heart, and the locus of self-knowledge resides within the mind. Thus, it is said that the Lord, despite being omnipresent, dwells in the heart of a being. However, due to the veiling power of ignorance, it is not realized. As a result, it accumulates virtue and vice, and is bound to the endless cycle of birth and death as if fixed upon a machine.
Contd Part 18