Meditation, Cosmic Aspect, and Devotion
Mind which has been able to get rid of the strong hold of desires and has started becoming pure & calm, needs to be directed towards God/Self; for this meditation is essential. Hence after explaining Karma-Yoga and clearing Arjuna's doubts regarding Karma-Sannyasa, Sri Krishna now starts elaborating on meditation. Without proper Karma-Yoga, mind does not become calm enough to practice true and deep meditation; and without meditation, mere Karma-Yoga can't take spiritual aspirant to deeper Consciousness levels. Sri Krishna had introduced meditation briefly at the end of fifth chapter, and now at the beginning of sixth chapter, He praises karmayogi as संन्यासी sannyasi (monk) and yogi. Though externally a karmayogi may not be a sannyasi i.e. he/she may not have renounced home and hearth (renunciation of fire निरग्नि niragni) or donned ochre clothes, but he/she has renounced all desires and attachments to the results for his/her actions; similarly externally a karmayogi may not appear to be a yogi i.e. he/she may not be sitting still in meditation most of the time (without action अक्रिय akriya), but like a yogi's mind, his/her mind is balanced and contended being not disturbed by hankering for results and is calmly discharging the required duties of life.
@ In Vedic times, a house-holder had to daily perform fire-sacrifice (यज्ञ: yajna) like अग्निहोत्र agnihotra etc.; for this he had a permanent fire established in his home called गार्ह्यपत्न्याग्नि garhapatyaagni and he had to draw fire from this garhapatyaagni and start the fire for other yajnas. The fire which was drawn from garhapatyaagni was called आहवनीयाग्नि aahavaniyaagni and the yajna fire was called दक्षिणाग्नि dakshinaagni or अन्वाहार्यपचनग्नि anvaharyapachanagni. One who had taken monastic vows and renounced family life had to naturally give up these home-lit fires and thus was referred as niragni (literally - one without fire).
Karma-Yoga is the means to reach the level of meditation; one who has properly performed Karma-yoga and has developed the capacity to practice deeper meditation, has transcended his/her restless (rajas) nature. And hence his/her tendency would be to withdraw himself/herself from external pull of activity. When such an aspirant rises above the plane of senses/karma by giving up all सङ्कल्प sankalpas (mental resolutions) - the cause for desires and actions - related to this or any other world, he/she is called योगारूढ Yogarudha (one who is established in Yoga or Meditation).
@ सङ्कल्प sankalpa - to be attracted
towards the objects of the world is itself sankalpa (mental resolution towards something); this in turn gives rise for
desire towards the object and then one does action to acquire it.
Next, Sri Krishna explains a profound psychological truth, which is applicable to all human beings as well as all societies at all times; He says, 'if we don't discipline our body-mind complex then we are our own enemy and if we properly discipline our body-mind-complex then we are our own friend. Do not degrade yourself but rather raise yourself by developing maturity of the psyche.' Swami Vivekananda expresses this as:
'It is a tremendous error to feel helpless. Do not seek help from anyone. We are our own help. If we cannot help ourselves, there is none to help us. ..."Thou thyself art thy only friend, thou thyself thy only enemy. There is no other enemy but this self of mine, no other friend by myself." This is the last and greatest lesson, and Oh, what a time it takes to learn it! We seem to get hold of it, and the next moment the old wave comes. The backbone breaks. We weaken and again grasp for that superstition and help. Just think of that huge mass of misery, and all caused by this false idea of going to seek for help!'
The spiritual aspirant who has established himself/herself in Yoga (Yogarudha) has complete control over his/her body-mind-complex,
is of joyous mind (due to bliss of the Self manifested in mind), is unperturbed in pleasure or pain, heat or cold, and sees One God
in all. Thus he/she develops समबुद्धि samabuddhi (equanimity of mind) in all
the following types of human relationships:
The details of asanas and postures here are owing to the topic under discussion namely path of meditation (Raja-Yoga); but Jnana-margis (followers of Knowledge path) have their own definition of asanas, postures etc. Sri Ramana Maharshi - the great Jnani of last century - explains this point as:
D.: What are asanas (postures or seats)? Are they necessary?
Vedantins do not deride meditation (which involves duality of meditator and object of meditation) but does not give it ultimate position; they stress Self-Knowledge (in which all duality vanishes). Sri Ramana Maharshi's answer to following question, illustrates the point:
D.: What is the difference between meditation and enquiry into the Self?
From Jnana-Marga point of view and as Sri Ramana Maharshi says, 'Meditation is your true nature'; so meditation should be
a full time job for an aspirant and not some technique to be practiced at particular times!
Ø अनुग्रहशक्ति संबलित परमेश्वर - गुरु
(AnugrahaShakti Sambalit Parameshwar - Guru) God with Favouring/Blessing Power is called Guru
The aspirant, who realizes the Self, sees the Self in all beings and all beings in Self; God being no different from Self, such a soul
can be said to see God everywhere. Thus he/she becomes समदर्शी samadarshi (same or
unperturbed state of mind with regard to all i.e. sense of equality). Though such a being can be outwardly seen to act and behave
like any other ordinary person, his/her internal awareness is radically different from others because he/she experiences God in and
The description of highest state of Reality and the efforts required to attain it, may trigger different reactions in different minds
like shock, awe, fear, helplessness, confusion, wrong understanding, etc.; or some minds may understand and put in emotional efforts
but not sincere, rational, prolonged efforts; very few would understand rightly, introspect and self-analyze thoroughly, and make
efforts earnestly. Arjuna, who represents spiritual aspirant's mind, reacted by asking, 'I don't see how this state of equanimity of
mind that you mention, can be achieved. The mind by nature is fickle, stubborn, and turbulent; controlling it is as difficult as to
control wind!' Now, Sri Krishna kindly acknowledges Arjuna's concern and says, 'Without doubt, the mind is difficult to control; but
it can be done with detachment and practice. For uncontrolled mind, yoga is extremely difficult, but for an aspirant who has controlled
mind by constant spiritual practice, it is achievable.'
@ तात - Arjuna is referred as तात because disciple is same as son; and son is referred as तात - being father in another form (father is तात - तनोति आत्मानं पुत्ररूपेण one who extends oneself as son)
'After taking such a birth here on earth, that spiritual aspirant, impelled by his/her past samskaras, continues his/her spiritual practice in this new body. The force of previous practice exerts its pull, and makes him/her perform further spiritual effort; such an aspirant transcends the sphere of शब्द-ब्रह्म shabda-brahman (phenomenal jurisdiction of Veda/Scriptures), frees mind of all impurities/sins, and reaches the blessed, supreme state of Self-Realisation.' Spiritual aspirants should note that the mental impressions gathered (samskaras) due to spiritual practice are related to the real entity - Self/God, while all other worldly samskaras are related to transient phenomena; and hence even if for some time (may be few births!) worldly samskaras dominate the mind, in the end spiritual samskaras are bound to spring up and take the aspirant to the goal! This is a great message and assurance from Lord Sri Krishna to all spiritual aspirants (as also in Gita II.40). After this great assurance, Sri Krishna asks Arjuna - and all of us - to be a yogi with heart fixed on Him(God); being such a yogi of comprehensive & dynamic spirituality is greater than to be just an ordinary 'performer of scriptural actions' (कर्मी karmi) or mere intellectual person (शास्त्र-पण्डित ज्ञानी shastra-pandit jnani) or performer of some limited austerities (तपस्वी tapasvi).
@ ज्ञानी 'Jnani' word used above (verse 6.46), can
Many commentators divide the chapters of Bhagawad-Gita into three sets of six chapters each and associate them with the three words of the famous Vedic dictum 'Thou Art That'; first six chapters are related to त्वम् पदार्थ शोधन tvam padartha shodhan i.e. they focus on the enquiry into the nature of 'Thou', the individual aspect of Self. Next six chapters focus on 'That', the cosmic aspect of Self, and hence devotion (of 'part' towards 'whole') is their main theme. At the end of sixth chapter, Sri Krishna points to भक्तियोग Bhaktiyoga (path of devotion) and from first verse of seventh chapter, He starts elaborating it.
Cosmic Aspect and Devotion
Sri Krishna says, 'Listen the way through which you will understand Me (God with all divine qualities) thoroughly (with qualities and without qualities) and without any doubt. You should practice yoga depending entirely on Me and fixing your heart loving on Me. I will tell you completely both knowledge (परोक्ष-ज्ञान parokshna jnana) as well as realisation of Truth/Reality (अपरोक्ष-ज्ञान aparoksha jnana i.e vijnana), knowing which nothing else remains to be known.'
@ ज्ञान Jnana can be प्रत्यक्ष pratyaksha (sense-knowledge; omnipresence of God not conceivable), परोक्ष paroksha (scriptural knowledge; faith in God can be developed), or अपरोक्ष aparoksha (intimate-knowledge or realisation of 'I Am God')
Sri Krishna also mentions the rarity of spiritual aspirants among humans and extremely difficult nature of Self-Realization; He says, 'rare is an individual among thousands of humans, who tries to realize the Self, and among those who are trying, rare indeed is one who is able to know Me (Self/God) truly.' In vast humanity, we see very few people try to live their lives virtuously, and among those who live virtuously, very few are detached from sense-plane and are becoming introspective. So even the percentage of spiritual aspirants is minuscule, further, spiritual journey being 'walk on razor's edge', extremely rare is any soul, among struggling spiritual aspirants, who reaches perfectly to the goal of Self-Realization!
Sri Krishna then begins explaining His (God/Self) dual nature which constitutes 'totality of Reality'. This dual nature of Reality is the material and efficient cause of the universe, in which, the material cause gives rise to evolution of structures, and the efficient cause (Pure Consciousness) is then progressively manifested through these structures. Here in Gita it is termed as lower Nature (अपरा-प्रकृति apara Prakriti) and higher Nature (परा-प्रकृति para Prakriti) respectively; it is 'manifestations of Pure Consciousness' (five elements of Nature, mind, intellect, and ego) and 'Pure Consciousness' (intelligence, जीवभूता jivabhuta). Sri Ramakrishna has given a beautiful analogy for this dual nature of Reality:
'Suppose you have separated the shell, flesh, and seeds of a bel-fruit and someone asks you the weight of the fruit. Will you leave aside the shell and the seeds, and weigh only the flesh? Not at all. To know the real weight of the fruit, you must weigh the whole of it - the shell, the flesh, and the seeds. Only then can you tell its real weight. The shell may be likened to the universe, and the seeds to living beings. While one is engaged in discrimination one says to oneself that the universe and the living beings are non-Self and unsubstantial. At that time one thinks of the flesh alone as the substance, and the shell and seeds as unsubstantial. But after discrimination is over, one feels that all three parts of the fruit together form a unity. Then one further realizes that the stuff that has produced the flesh of the fruit has also produced the shell and seeds. To know the real nature of the bel-fruit one must know all three.'
The lower Nature (apara Prakriti) is sustained and controlled by the higher Nature (para Prakriti) because higher nature is 'inner' to lower nature and is conscious, not dull.
@ In Gita, many terms from Samkhya Philosophy are used in sixth and seventh chapters, so it is important to remember that though Vedanta accepts some terminology and process of Samkhya (especially related to the explanation of universe), the points of difference between the two philosophies are: Samkhya accept प्रकृति/प्रधान Prakriti/Pradhan as being independent from Purusha and hence Prakriti has कर्तृत्व kartritva ('doership') & पुरुष Purusha has भोक्तृत्व bhokrutva ('enjoyership'); also Purushas are many in number. Vedanta does not accept the independence of Prakriti/Pradhan; it regards Prakriti/Maya as mithya (illusory) and non-separate from Self; hence no kartritva in Maya and no bhokrutva in Self, kartritva and bhokrutva are superimposed on Self due to the limiting adjunct of Maya. Also, Self is One and not many according to Vedanta.
Sri Krishna while using the word 'I' refers to Supreme Reality and hence He says, 'these two Natures (para and apara) are the source of all beings; [and through them] I Am the origin and dissolution of entire universe. There is no other supreme cause to the world apart from Me; the entire universe is strung on Me like pearls on a thread.' All beings are like pearls and God is the common thread running through them! Adi Shankara, in his commentary on this verse, gives another example: God is like 'warp' (of 'warp & woof of cloth') and beings are like 'cloth made out of it'; Sri Jnaneshwar Maharaj also gives beautiful simile: 'pearls of gold' strung on the 'golden thread'! God is not only transcendent but also immanent; He/She is the intrinsic, causal, and essential characteristics of everything in the world. To illustrate the immanence of God, a few examples are mentioned here by Sri Krishna (more would be enumerated in tenth chapter): 'I am the taste & liquidity in liquids, brilliance in sun and moon, Omkara in Vedas, sound in space, manliness in man, pure fragrance (पुण्यो गन्ध: punyo gandhah) in earth, glow in fire, life in all beings, spirit of austerity in austere person, eternal seed of all beings, intelligence in intelligent people, power in powerful, 'strength devoid of sense-cravings and attachment (कामरागविवर्जितम् kaamraagvivarjitam)' in strong, 'desire not opposed to dharma' in all beings'.
Ø पुण्यो गन्ध: punyo gandhah -
undifferentiated/un-manifested sense of smell (अव्याकृत गन्ध:
avyaakrita gandhah), the subtle essence (तन्मात्रा tanmaatraa) of sense
of smell; this is ever pure and uncontaminated. The smell we perceive on gross level is contaminated due to our ignorance and our
mental qualities. This is true for all sense-perceptions like sight, taste, hearing etc. In Vedanta sense of smell is associated
with Earth as sense of hearing is associated with Sky, sense of taste with Water, sense of sight with Fire, and sense of touch with Air.
Sri Krishna says further, 'All mental states and objects, arising out of the three gunas (सत्व satwa,
रज: rajas, तम: tamas), are originating from Me; though they are in Me, I am not bound by them
rather they are controlled by Me. All beings are deluded by these three gunas and hence do not know Me - the Supreme
imperishable Reality transcendent to all gunas. This divine Maya of Mine - which is constituted of three gunas and
deludes entire world - is extremely difficult to understand or overcome; only those who take refuge in Me are able to cross it.'
We forget our infinite real nature, our real 'I'; thus we are deluded and bound by the three gunas, but our real 'I' (Self/God)
never gets deluded/contaminated by these gunas. Sri Ramakrishna gives a beautiful simile for this: 'There is poison in the
snake, but it doesn't harm the snake. It is poison to him who is bitten by the snake.' According to Vedanta, the appearance of
body-mind-world being an illusory manifestation of Self can't affect it's source i.e. Self, just as the pictures appearing on a screen
can't affect the screen. Our unwillingness to give up limited individuality is the cause of our bondage; Swami Vivekananda says,
'... we are immortal with regard to the whole; but the difficulty is, we desire so much to be immortal as parts of the whole. We
have seen that we are Infinite, and that that is our real individuality. But we want so much to make these little souls individual.'
Ø आर्त aarta devotee examples from scripture: kings jailed
by Jarasandha and Draupadi during Vastraharana in Mahabharata
Sri Krishna's exposition about Maya, its power to delude, and way out of Maya, raises the question: then why do not all people surrender to Him and get freedom? Sri Krishna explains that people loose their intelligence due to the desires in their hearts; in order to fulfil those desires, they worship different deities and perform actions according to their beliefs propelled by faith in those deities; further Sri Krishna adds: I do not disturb their faith, instead, make that faith firm and grant their prayers through those deity-forms. The result obtained by these people is obviously limited and temporary; but real devotees of Lord, worshipping only Him, attain to ever-lasting Peace and Bliss. Thus first the evil minded people were described, then devotees of different kinds were described, and lastly these other people - who worship different deities and are midway between 'evil-minded-types' and 'devotee-types' - were described. People under delusion of Maya lack proper discriminative intellect, and hence remain unaware of the infinite, unchanging, un-manifested nature of the Self/God; they consider Him as being manifested, limited and changeful. All beings are always subjected to the duality arising out of desire (इच्छा iccha) and hatred (द्वेष dwesha); and when mind is subjected to the two emotions, right knowledge - even regarding external objects - is difficult to arise, what to speak of Self-knowledge.
ØFollowing four types of superimpositions occur due to desire and hatred:
more coming soon....stay tuned!