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(The Philosophical Part)
WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE
KNOWLEDGE, WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE AND IGNORANCE
Shri Krishna said, "Arjuna, now you understand what yoga is. Now I shall tell you about Knowledge (of the Brahman) along with worldly knowledge. You may perhaps think as to what is the relevance of worldly knowledge here. But it is necessary to know about it first because when Knowledge is experienced the intellect puts the worldly knowledge behind. (7:1-4)
"Arjuna, Knowledge is that where the intellect cannot enter, where thoughts stop, and logic does not work. Worldly knowledge is different from this. And ignorance is to think that worldly knowledge is the True Knowledge i.e. Knowledge of Brahman. Now I shall tell you the method by which ignorance will go, worldly knowledge will burn leaving nothing and Knowledge will be apparent. (7:5-7). Only one in a thousand longs for this Knowledge and even among those it is rare that somebody will know Me. (7:10) There are millions of people who jump in the floodwaters of the desire for the Knowledge of Brahman but rare is the one who manages to swim across to the other bank. Therefore this is no ordinary matter. It is very deep and difficult to explain but I shall try to explain it to you.(7:13-14).
Arjuna, just as our body casts a shadow, this material universe is my Maya manifesting itself through the principles like Mahat etc. It is also known as Prakriti (nature) It consists of eight parts and is the one that creates the three worlds. The eight parts are: the five elements earth, water, air, fire and sky, the mind, the intellect and the ego. (7:15-18).
The state of equilibrium of these eight parts is my basic, subtle or Para Prakriti. It is also known as the Jiva (individual being). It makes the inert active, is the principle of action in the life-force, and makes the mind feel sorrow and temptation. The capability of the intellect to know is due to association with it. The ego which originates because of it runs the affairs of the world with its support. (7:19-21)
CREATION OF LIFE
When this subtle Prakriti lovingly creates the gross Prakriti it gives birth to the living beings in the world. Four types of life are produced (Jajara, or born through uterus; Andaja, or born through eggs; Swedaja, or born from sweat, e.g. lice etc; and Udbija, or born through seeds i.e. plants). Though all these are of equal value they belong to various species. There are 8.4 million of such species and their number in each is countless. (7:22-24).
The nature produces lives in each species with the help of the five elements and controls their population. Nature makes them to be born, to live in the world and then causes them to die and return to the five principles. In this process it demonstrates the working of actions and non-actions by the creatures. (7:25-26). Though it is the Nature which creates this expanse of the material world, it is in reality my projection and therefore I am the beginning, middle and the end of this world. (7:28).
Just as the root cause of mirage is the Sun similarly when this visible universe has dissolved and reach original state, that original state is only Me. Thus whatever is created and destroyed is in me and I am supporting it from inside and outside. (7:29-32).
Therefore Arjuna, understand that the liquid principle of water, the feeling of touch of the wind, the light of the sun and moon is Me. The natural fragrance of earth is me, the sound from the sky is me and the Sound of Aum from the Vedas is also me. The virility in man is me, the essence of the ego is me. (7:33-35). The basic energy in the fire is me. There are different kinds of living creatures in this world who survive on different kinds of food and I exist inseparably in the means for their survival. (7:36-39).
That which expands at the sprout of the space (Sky) at the time of the creation of the Universe and swallows the sounds A, U and M comprising the AUM at the time of its annihilation; that which does not vanish even after the form of the Universe which remains apparent as long as it it exists but vanishes at the time of the final annihilation, that formless entity which is the self generated seed of the Universe, is me. I am giving this knowledge to you. You will realise its relevance when you ponder over it deeply and compare it with the Sankhya philosophy. (7:40-43). Now I shall tell you this knowledge in short. (7:44)
I AM EVERYTHING
The penance of the ascetics is my form only. Understand without doubt that I am the strength of the strong and the intellect in the intelligent. (7:44-45). I am the desire in all creatures by virtue of which prescribed behaviour and earning the livelihood are possible. Though this desire is controlled by the sense organs it does not let them go against the prescribed code. Whenever the desire is not tending towards the prohibited actions it is guided by the self-restraint. Because of this the prescribed actions come to a successful conclusion and the worldly person achieves liberation. (7:46-49). How many things like this should I tell you? All this expanse of the material world has been rooted in me. (7:51)
MAYA CREATED BY ME BUT VEILS ME
The feelings of the mind, having the three attributes Sattva (pure), Raja (passion) and Tama (sloth) have been created from me but even so I am not in them. (7:53- 54) [ Simile: seed gives rise to a tree and then wood, but this seed is not in the wood] (7:55-56). But this Nature or Maya which is my projection and has been created from me, veils me. Therefore creatures do not realise me even though they have been created from me. Just as pearls formed from water do not dissolve in it similarly all living creatures are my own parts and have acquired life due to Maya but though they have been created from me they, instead of becoming one with me, get blinded by desires due to selfishness. (7:63-67)
GOING BEYOND MAYA
Arjuna, the problem is how to go beyond this Maya of mine and realise me. (7:68). Whatever steps one takes to cross this river of Maya become harmful. (7:82). Those who try to cross it on the strength of their intellect get lost. Those who try to cross using knowledge are completely swallowed by pride. Those who take the help of the Vedas are burdened by the ego and are consumed by arrogance. (7:83-84). Those who tried to use their youthful strength were caught in the sexual lust and in time, becoming old and demented, died sad and frustrated. (7:85-88) Those who perform Yajnas get caught in the wedge of heavenly enjoyment. (7:89) Those who, desiring liberation, perform ritualistic actions get caught in the issues of right and wrong. (7:90). To say that this River of Maya, to cross which, detachment and discrimination are not sufficient and even all round yoga practice also is rarely useful, is like saying that a sick person not observing diet will get cured. (7:91-92). A person cannot cross this river of Maya by his own efforts. (7:96). But only those who are single-mindedly devoted to me can cross it. Actually they do not even have to cross it because they have rid themselves of the illusion of Maya even before they die. (7:97)
Those who are guided by a True Guru, who hold to their experiences and take the route to self-realisation, those who by shedding the ego, calming the mind, avoiding desires follow the path of knowledge for ease in attaining unity with the Brahman, leap towards liberation and attain it with on the strength of detachment and with the conviction "I am that". But such devotees are very rare. (7:98-102). Because except for that one devotee all others are affected by ego and therefore they forget the Self. They become unaware of the lack of religious observance, are not ashamed of impending degradation and develop tendency to do what Vedas say should not be done. (7:103-104)
Arjuna, forsaking totally the purpose of their rebirth, they get engrossed in sense-pleasures and with feelings of "me" and "mine" they are full of passions. There is no realisation even when they get hit by pain and sorrow because their mind is clouded by the effect of Maya. Because of this they missed attaining Me. (7:105-107)
FOUR TYPES OF DEVOTEES
The devotees who gained spiritually from their devotion to me may be divided into four types. Arta (distressed), Jijnasu (curious), Artharthi (desirous of wealth) and Jnani (enlightened). (7:108-109).
Arta becomes my devotee because of his desire to be rid of his distress. Jijnasu worships me because he wants to know about me out of an intellectual curiosity. The reason for which the third i.e. Artharthi type worships me is obvious, it is for wealth. But it is fourth type, i.e. Jnani who is my real devotee for he wants nothing but me for my own sake. He, by the light of his knowledge has destroyed the darkness of duality between him and me and achieved one-ness with me and even then wishes to remain my devotee. (7:110-112). From his external actions he appears to be my devotee but internally he has become Me and in the light of this knowledge he knows that I am his soul therefore I too, feeling satisfied, consider him as my soul. How can he who lives realising the symbol beyond life be different from me even though he may be in body? (7:113, 114, 116-118). I like a devotee who comes to me with selfish motives but the devotee I really love is the Jnani type. (7:119). He is nothing but my soul. (7:126).
MY BEST DEVOTEE
Avoiding the obstacles of desire and anger in the wilderness of sense-pleasures he acquires good tendencies and in the company of saintly people he avoids bad behaviour and treads the straight path of good actions. How can one who, desireless of fruits of his actions treads the path of devotion through hundreds of lifetimes bother about the goal of those actions? (7:127-129). As he travels alone in the darkness of possessing the body during successive rebirths, the dawn of the end of the burden of his karmas comes. (7:130). Now the morning light of the benevolence of the True Guru removes the darkness of ignorance, and on the bright illumination from the rays of knowledge he realises the wealth of equality. (7:131). Wherever he casts his eyes he sees only me and nothing but me. Just as water is within and without a vessel dipped in it, so is he within me and I within him and outside him also. But all this cannot be expressed in words. (7:131-134). Great soul like this is rare (7:137).
WORSHIP WITH INTENT
Rest of them worship me only for pleasures and become blind by desires. (7:138). And once they are possessed by the desire for the fruit of their actions, lust enters the heart extinguishing the light of knowledge. Thus remaining in the darkness of ignorance internally and externally, they are distanced from me and start worshipping other deities with all their heart. (7:139-140). Already slaves of Maya and overcome by lust they worship other deities with elaborate rituals paying attention to rules, means and offerings. (7:141-142). But it is only I who fulfils the desire of the devotee worshipping the deities, because I am present in all the deities. But he does not believe so and therefore he keeps different feelings towards the various deities. (7:143-144). Such devotees do not know me because they do not come out of their narrow thinking. Though the desires are fulfilled the fruits of their efforts are impermanent like a dream and only helps continuation of their life cycles. They reach the realm of the deities whom they worship (and the deities are also impermanent). On the other hand those who choose the path of my devotion alone with their body and mind, attain on death, oneness with me who am eternal. (7:147-150). But common man does not do so and put himself to loss. (7:151). Why should he not leave the cage of the desire of the fruits of his actionsand fly high on the Wings of Self-Realisation in the Sky of Knowledge? Why should he try to measure the immeasurably bliss of the Self? Why should he consider the formless, unmanifestable Me as manifestable and having form? Why should he try to create rituals for reaching me, when I am in all creatures? (7:155-157).
Because people are blinded by the veil of Maya, even though I am in the form of light, they are not able to see me because of the I-am-the-body feeling. Otherwise, tell me, is there anything in which I am not present? I alone am pervading the entire universe. (7:158-160). Arjuna, I was in all the creatures who ever lived; and at this moment I am in all creatures who are living; and I am not separate from those who will be born in the future. But this only in the manner of speaking. Actually nothing is born and nothing dies. (7:161-162). All life is illusion. Thus, though I am eternally in all, yet they are still caught in the birth and death cycle. But there is a reason for it. (7:165)
PITFALLS FROM DESIRE
Desire was born out of ego and body. Due to its combination with hate the delusion that he is different from soul was born. This delusion was fostered by the ego. Keeping away from courage and self-control this delusion started growing due to hope. Under the influence of dissatisfaction it got tirelessly engrossed in sense-pleasures and started behaving perversely. It brought impediments in the path of devotion and prepared the paths of evil deeds. Because of it people got confused, went astray in life and came under the heavy burden of sorrow. (7:166-171)
But those who are aware of the useless thorns of doubts, who do not get caught in the trap of delusion produced by them, who tread the path of unstinted devotion, crush the doubts, avoid sinful actions and with the speed attained through meritorious actions come near Me and thus escape the clutches of desire and anger. (7:171-174). Then they develop a desire to end this saga of birth and death. They succeed sometime or other in their efforts and gain the perfect Brahman. Having reached their goal and once the novelty of this Self-realisation fades away they find the world full of bliss and there is no more need for actions. They then develop a sense of equality and attain unity with Me. (7:175-179).
Experiencing the aspect of my supremacy over the elements they reach my aspect of Adhibhuta (supreme deity). When, with the impetus of their knowledge they look at Me as the supreme of the sacrifices or the Supreme Soul they do not grieve death. Otherwise, people feel that a big calamity is about to fall when death approaches. But nobody knows how, those who have become one with me do not leave me even when they die, those who have gained this perfect knowledge are the real yogis. (7:180-184).NOTES:
Prakriti, Mahat etc: Prakriti literally means "exceptional ability". It is the wonderful nature out of which the vast material world in all of its intricate aspects takes shape. Prakriti is characterized by the three gunas of Sattva, Raja, and Tama.
The first principle created by Prakriti is Mahat, the Cosmic intelligence, equivalent to the intellect or Buddhi in humans. The next principle is the Ahankara or ego, the sense of self-identity (not personal pride), and the centre in our consciousness from which we think, act and react. This false sense of identity separates one's real Self from everything else and focuses it upon matter leading a person to think, "I am this body, this is mine, and this is for me." This Ahankara is what is responsible for the material universe. Ahankara expresses itself in three universal attributes or qualities: Sattva, Raja and Tama.
The mind, the five senses and the sense organs and the five organs of action are born from the essence of the Sattva attribute (the attribute of stability, purity, wakefulness, clarity and light);
Sensations, feelings and emotions are caused due to the Raja attribute that represents dynamic movement;
The five elements (earth, water, fire, wind and the sky) that form the material world are created from the Tama attribute (the attribute responsible for the tendency towards inertia and lethargy, darkness, heaviness, deep sleep, ignorance and confusion).For more details one should consult some work on Sankhya philosophy.
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Last update: Essen, 2004-OCT-10