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(The Philosophical Part)






Arjuna said, "Shri Krishna, please clarify as to what is Brahman, Karma and Adhyatma. Also explain to me what is Adhibhuta and Adhidaivat. What Adhiyajna is and what he is in the body, is what I am not able to understand. Also tell me how can those who have attained control over the mind know you at the time of their death. (8:1-5)

Shri Krishna replied as follows,

Brahman That which, in spite of being contained in the porous body does not leak out, that which is subtle but not non-existent, that which has been strained through the fabric of the sky and which, though rare and thin does not fall through the bag of material world is the ultimate Brahman (Parabrahman). (8:15-17)

Adhyatma The natural state of the principle of the Brahman which takes form but is not created and even after losing it is not destroyed is called Adhyatma or Supreme Soul. (8:18-19)

Karma From that formless Brahman different elements like Mahat, Prakriti, Ego etc. are created and the formation of the Primeval egg (Brahmanda) begins. Because of the Primeval thought the Primeval egg gives rise to countless life species. But though they appear different the limitless Brahman only pervades in all of them though. It is found that Brahman alone is root of all these millions of species. One cannot find who and why the world was created but its affairs go on. But the process of creation of this world continues growing. Thus, the action of creation without creator attributed to the Brahman is called Karma. (8:21-29)

Adhibhuta Now listen to what Adhibhuta is. That which is formed from one fifth part of each of the five principles, which can be sensed because of the five principles but is destroyed as soon as it is separated from them is called Adhibhuta or Supreme Spirit. (8:30-32)

Adhidaivata Adhidaivata is the living individual. He enjoys whatever is created by Prakriti. He is the one that activates the life force (consciousness), master of the organs, and one by whose association, the thoughts, desires etc. continue to exist even after the body has died. He is actually the ultimate Self, but due to ego, he gets trapped in the struggle of life and experiences happiness, sorrow etc. Ordinarily understood as the living being, he may be called Adhidaivata (Supreme Being) of the body which is made of the five principles. (8:33-36)

Adhiyajnya (Principle Sacrifice) One who extinguishes the I-am-the-body feeling is the Adhiyajnya (Principle Sacrifice) in the body. Secondly, I am both Adhibhuta and Adhidaivata but just as pure gold mixed with impurity has to be called impure as long as it is associated with the impurity, this Adhibhuta etc. as long as they are veiled by ignorance must be considered different from the Supreme Brahman. Otherwise they are not different. (8:37-41) When the I-am-the-body feeling vanishes, the original unity with the Brahman becomes evident. Where this happens, that Adhiyajnya is Me. (8:45) It was by keeping this in mind that I had told you earlier (v. 4th Ch) that all yajnas are created through actions. I am opening to you the wealth of liberation where all living things ultimately come to rest. Avoid sense-pleasures by control of the senses with dispassionate attitude. Then adopting the yoga technique using Vajrasana, breath and mind control, attain knowledge. Once knowledge merges into the subject of knowledge only the subject that is Brahman remains. That subject is called Adhiyajnya. (8:46-53) As I told you just now, those who know Me as Adhiyajnya from beginning to the end consider the body to be a mere cover and dwell in the Self. Such a person does not have awareness about external matters. He who thus becomes one with me from outside as well as inside, sheds the layers of the five principles from his body automatically. He who is not aware of his body even while living does not feel grief from death. A vessel immersed in water has water inside as well as outside. Does water break if the vessel breaks? Similarly even if body gets destroyed, Brahman continues to be everywhere and therefore how can the intellect which has become one with it get destroyed? Therefore those who remember me at the time of death become one with me. (8:59-68)


The normal rule is that after death a person attains that state which is in his mind at the time of death. He cannot avoid it. Just as one dreams of things which are constantly in mind while awake, whatever one longs for in life comes to the mind at the time of death and he attains that state. Therefore make a habit of always remembering me. Consider whatever you hear, think, see, speak is Me throughout then I am always with you. I assure you that if you offer your mind and intellect to me then you will attain only Me. If you doubt this then experience it by practising it. (8:69-80)

Purify your conscious mind by this practice and lead it to spiritual path. If the mind which takes one here and there gets engrossed in the Self then who cares or remembers whether the body exists or not? The mind merges with consciousness which is solid bliss. (8:81-85)


With the knowledge that the faultless Brahman is formless and without birth and death, that It witnesses all, is older than the sky and subtler than the atom, that the affairs of the world go on by association with It, that It gives birth to all the visible world, that the world lives by It, that It is beyond logic and beyond imagination, that eyes cannot see even in broad daylight, that like a sunbeam It always appears lustrous to men of knowledge, that It never sets, he who concentrates on It with steady mind at the time of death, while outwardly, sitting in the lotus position facing north, with the eternal bliss gained by practising desireless actions (Karmayoga) and with the love of Self-realisation and using the yogic techniques mastered for attaining it quickly, he brings the life-force (Prana) from the centre (Chakra) of fire or energy (i.e. Manipur Chakra near the navel) through the central nerve that is the Sushumna route to the Brahmarandhra or aperture on the crown, where the life-force merges with the sky-principle. The immobile mind and the life force appear outwardly to have merged. But because the mind has become stable and devotion steady, and with the strength of the yogic power that life-force eliminates the movable; and then the immovable enters the centre of the eyebrows and vanishes there. Just as the sound of a bell vanishes in the bell itself, the devotee leaves his body and merges into pure Brahman which is my lustrous form. (8:86-99).


It has been called Akshar i.e. immutable or indestructible by knowers of the highest knowledge which is the knowledge of the Self. That which men of knowledge sense and measure by their senses is Kshar or mutable. That which is impossible to know is Akshar. It is the same as the highest Soul and is above Prakriti or Nature. (8:102-103). Only dispassionate persons who have given up sense-pleasures by control of the senses only attain that state which is coveted by the desireless. (8:104-105)


Arjuna, make the mind steady in the heart by breaking the habit of the mind to wander. But this is possible only when the senses are controlled with determination. (8:111-113). After the mind is steady one should meditate on Aum and bring the life-force to the Brahmarandhra. Then by concentrating it should be brought to the boundary of consciousness. Then when the A, U and Ma merge in the half syllable Ma it should be made steady in the consciousness. The uttering of Aum then stops, and life-force also dissolves in the consciousness. but the Bliss that is Brahman remains. Aum is my monosyllable form. He who dies while meditating on it undoubtedly reaches me and after that there is nothing more for him to be attained. (8:114-119).


Arjuna, you may perhaps doubt how one should remember Me at the time of death when the senses are in its shadow and the joy of living is lost. When the signs of death are evident, how one can sit up, control the senses and in that state of mind how one can recite Aum? Do not let such doubts trouble you, for him who serves me constantly, I become his servant at the time of his death. (8:120-123). They give up sense-pleasures, control their active life and keeping me in the heart they experience the joy of the Self and thus worship me by being constantly engrossed in me and close to me. If I were to come to my devotees only if they remember me at the time of their death, then what is the use of the worship? Do I not rush to any person who prays for my help in their distress purely out of compassion? But if I wait for my devotees also to pray before I go to them then who would like to be a devotee? I must rush to them the moment they remember me otherwise I will not be able to bear the burden of their devotion. It is for this reason, that is to pay the debt of the devotion that I go to the devotees to serve them at the time of death. In order that weakness of their bodies does not cause them distress, I keep them bound to the state of self-realisation, make their mind calm and steady and thus bring those dear ones to me." (8:124- 134). The devotees also are not sorry to leave their body because they do not have attachment for it. They also do not feel that I should come at the time of death to them to take them to me because they have already become one with me while they are still alive. (8:136-137). Those who have attained this infinite Me are not reborn. (8:151)


On the other hand, even Brahma, who is proud of his Brahmahood cannot escape the life-death cycles. (8:152). Brahmadeo's one day lasts for one thousand sets of the four yugas with a similar span for his night. The fortunate persons who dwell in this loka (of Brahma) do not return to earth but remain permanently in heaven. Ordinary deities are nothing compared with them. Even their king Indra does not have a life span of even one Prahara (3 hours) out of one day of Brahmaloka, the best of the fourteen lokas. During the length of one day of Brahmaloka, fourteen Indras come and go. (8:156-158).

When the day dawns in Brahmaloka, the formless Brahman gives birth to the material Universe. (8:160). After four Praharas, Brahmadeo's night starts and the expanse of the universe suddenly vanishes and again starts as before at dawn. (8:161). Thus in one day and night of Brahmadeo, the universe is created and destroyed. The vastness of this Brahmaloka is such that the seed of this universe is contained in it but even then it is caught in the cycle of life and death. (8:165-166). Actually, at night the manifestable universe created at dawn merges with the unmanifestable at night. This state of oneness with the unmanifestable is called the state of equality. (8:167-168).


Thus the diversity of the universe is contained in the uniqueness of the unmanifestable. This property is called equality. (8:169). In this state of equality one cannot see similarity or dissimilarity therefore the five elements are not manifested. Once the form dissolves then the worldness of the world vanishes but that from which the world is created remains as it was and is known by the natural name unmanifestable. One is suggested from the other but they are not two things. (8:170-172). Both the manifestable and unmanifestable attributes occur in Brahman alone. But Brahman is neither manifestable nor unmanifestable. It is neither eternal nor destructible. It is beyond these two attributes and is axiomatic. (8:174-175). The name Akshar itself signifies its indestructibility. It is called the ultimate state (Paramagati) since there is nothing beyond it. But it appears as if it is dormant in this body because it does not do actions nor cause them to be done. But in spite of this no function of the body stops. (8:181-183). The affairs of the body like the awareness of the intellect, transactions of the mind, plays of the organs and movement of the life-force continue nicely without its doing anything. (8:186-187).

Since he dwells quietly in the body it is known as Purusha (Supreme Being or Soul). Since it is loyal to Prakriti also it is called Purusha. (8:188-189). It is all encompassing and is called by superior yogis as the Supreme Being beyond ego (Paratpar). It comes searching for the true devotees and rewards them for their devotion. (8:190-191). It is the dwelling place of those who believe that the universe is the form of Brahman, it is the place of glory for the ego-less and knowledge to those beyond attributes, kingdom of happiness for the desireless, food served for the contented and for and protector like a mother to those devotees who do not bother about worldly problems and the path of devotion is the direct approach to It. (8:192-195). There is no rebirth after Self-realisation. It is my highest abode. I am revealing this secret to you. (8:202-203).


There is another way of understanding easily which abode yogis go after leaving their body. If a yogi has to leave his body accidentally then he has to take rebirth. If a yogi leaves his body at an auspicious time then the yogi attains Brahman immediately but if the time is improper then he has to take rebirth. Union with Brahman and rebirth depend upon the time of death. Listen to what those times are. (8:204-207).

At the moment of death the five elements from which the body is formed leave it. When death is near his intellect is not clouded, memory does not become blind and mind also does not die. On the other hand because of the protection by the experience of the Brahman all the organs remain bright and this brightness lasts until death. But for this to happen it is necessary that the fire principle (heat) is active in the body. (8:208-211). At the time of death, because of aggravation by the harmful wind the body is filled throughout by phlegm and the intensity of fire in it is destroyed. At such a time there is no vigour in the life-force then what can intellect do? Therefore without fire (heat) the power of action (Chetana) in the body does not survive and the body is like a lump of mud. If a seeker dies under these conditions then he spends the remaining time of his life in darkness. (8:213-215). In this state how is it possible for him to remember his past spiritual progress at the time of death and attain Self? Due to the extinguishing of the power of action in the mire of phlegm he loses his memory and his past spiritual achievements become ineffective prior to death. In short, the basic support for knowledge is the fire-principle therefore its strength must be plentiful at the time of death. (8:216-219).

The factors favourable for yogis to leave the body in order to attain Brahman are internally the strength of the fire principle within the body and externally the bright fortnights during the six months of the northward passage of the sun and daytime. Knowers of Brahman who leave their body under these favourable conditions become the Supreme Brahman themselves. Arjuna, this is the greatness of the path of yoga which is the straightforward path to liberation. The first step in this path is the fire (heat) in the body, the second is the flame of the fire, the third is the time of the day, the fourth is the bright fortnight and the fifth and the last is the six month period of the northward passage of the sun. This is the best condition and is called Archira Marg. (8:220-225).


Now I shall tell you about which times are inauspicious for death. When death approaches, the wind and phlegm in the body get aggravated, darkness spreads in the subtle mind, organs become lethargic, memory gets confused, mind becomes disturbed and life force feels constrained. The fire principle becomes inactive and consciousness of the body becomes engulfed in smoke. (8:225-228). He is neither dead nor in his senses because the life-force is weakened. His body lies motionless waiting for death. Thus the mind, intellect and body get suffocated by the smoke and all his efforts for liberation get wasted. (8:230-231). This internal state of the body together with the external conditions: dark fortnight, night-time and months during the southward passage of the sun can only lead to rebirth. A yogi who dies under these conditions, because he is a yogi goes to Chandraloka and is reborn after some time. (8:232-235). This is the smoky path to rebirth. (8:236). On the other hand Archira Path is the best, easy, pleasant and leads to liberation. (8:237)


I have told you about these two paths which have been existing from ancient times so that you can benefit from their knowledge. (8:238-239). If a person misses the Archira path and falls in the trap of the smoky path then he has to go through the painful stages of rebirth. I had to explain to you the two paths so that the pains of rebirth can be avoided. But whatever falls to his fate is his real path. (8:244-246). Who can tell which path a person will get? Why should there be any path at all to attain Brahman after death? Whether one is dead or alive one is in reality Brahman only. (8:247-248). Those who attained Brahman while still in the body do not bother about the body or when it is going to die. Why do they have to bother about whether the path is good or bad. (8:251-252). Therefore Arjuna, be equipped with Yoga so that you attain Brahman. Then it does not matter when and where you shed your body, the unification with Brahman will be eternal. (8:256-257)


One cannot compare pure Brahman with the merit gained through study of Vedas, performance of yajnas and by donations. (8:261-262). When a great yogi compares the heavenly pleasures with the bliss of the Brahman he finds the former to be inferior compared with the latter. Then, he steps up from the heavenly pleasures to the level of the Brahman. (8:266-267).


Note to Chapter 8:
Note on reckoning of time: (8:156-158). In the Indian system of reckoning time, following units are used (Source: Sulabha Jyotishashastra by K. V. Somanshastri. Pub by Mouj Prakashan, Mumbai 4)
Small time scales:
One Nimisha = time taken for one blinking of the eye of a person whose mind is calm.
1 Tatpar = 1/30 Nimisha
1 Truti = 1/100 Tatpar
1 Lagna = 1/1000 Truti
1 Kalaa = 4 Nimisha
1 Kashtaa = 18 Nimisha
1 Kalaa = 30 Kashtaa
Medium time scales: 1 Ghatika = 30 Kalaa (= 24 minutes) = 60 Pala ( also 2.5 Vipalas = 1 second) 1 day and night = 60 Ghatika Prahar = A day and night consists of 8 Prahars, four during the day and four during the night. But night is said to have only three Prahars since the half Prahars after sunset and before sunrise are counted as daytime.
1 day = the time period from sunrise to sunset.
1 night = the time from sunset to sunrise.
Ahoratra = 1day + 1 night i.e. time between successive sunrises. Note that in modern calendar the day or date is deemed to start from midnight and not from sunrise.
Paksha = a period of about a fortnight, from the end of new moon day (Amavasya) to end of full moon day or Purnima. (This is Shukla or bright Paksha), and from the end of full moon day to the end of new moon day (Krishna or dark Paksha).
Tithi = is the most important indication of time for all socio-religious events in the Hindu world. The time taken by moon to advance 12 degrees farther from the sun constitutes one tithi. Sun and moon are at the same place in the sky on Amavasya night, the night before new moon day. The moon travels faster in the sky and again joins the sun a month later. Since moon has to travel 360 degrees of the celestial route every lunar month there are 30 spans of 12 degrees and therefore 30 tithis in a lunar month, 15 in each Paksha. These are named as Pratipadaa (First), Dwitiyaa (Second) etc. up to Chaturdashi (Fourteenth) in each of the bright and dark Pakshas. The fifteenth tithi is either Purnima (with night of Full Moon) or Amavasya (night of no Moon) . Tithi may change any time during the day or night but whichever is present at the time of sunrise is taken as tithi of the day. Due to the changes in the rates of motion of the sun and the moon, sometimes the 12 degree span corresponding to a given tithi is covered in between the successive sunrises. In such a case corresponding tithi lapses. For example let us say that on Monday the tithi at sunrise was Third but tithi changed to Fourth just after sunrise and again to Fifth just before the sunrise of Tuesday. Thus Tuesdays tithi will be Fifth, fourth having lapsed. . On the other hand if on any day the tithi does not change before the next sunrise then the same tithi will continue the next day.
Long time scales:
1 lunar month = Two Pakshas. It is the time lapsed between the two successive new moon days. First day (Pratipadaa) of the month starts on the day next to the new moon day and the last day is on the next new moon day. A lunar month is 29.53 days long. There are twelve months in a year: Chaitra, Vaishakha, Jyeshtha, Ashadha, Shravana, Bhadrapada, Ashwin, Kartik, Margashirsha, Pousha, Magha, Falguna.
1 Lunar year = 12 lunar months or 360 tithis but actually 350 days since many tithis lapse. There is an additional leap month every third year and a lapsed month every 141st year. This brings the lunar year numbering in phase with the solar years. Thus every third year has thirteen months. Each year has a name, one of a list of sixty, which are repeated. There are two main eras used in India: Shalivahan Shaka or era and Vikramasamvat. Shalivahan Shaka started 78 years after the Christian era,. the year starting in Chaitra. Vikramasamvat started 57 years earlier to the Christian era, the year starting in Kartik. Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas also started an era but it is not used any more.
Nakshatra: The zodiac is divided into 27 parts each named after a star or nakshatra. A reference to a time is often given by the sun's position in a particular nakshatra. The 27 Nakshatras are: Ashwini, Bharani, Krittikaa, Rohini, Mrigashirsha, Ardraa, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashleshaa, Maghaa, Purvaa(-falguni), Uttara(-falguni), Hasta, Chitraa, Swaati, Vishaakhaa, Anuraadhaa, Jyeshthaa, Mula, Purvashadhaa, Uttarashadhaa, Shravana, Dhanishthaa, Shatataarakaa, Purvaabhdrapadaa, Uttaraabhaadrapadaa, Revati. Sun remains in each nakshatra for about 13.5 days while moon stays for about a day in each nakshatra each month.
Solar year is taken as the time the sun takes to travel from the beginning of the Ashwini star (which is in the Aries zodiac sign) to the time it returns to it. However during Shri Krishna's time the year started in Margashirsha in December.
Uttarayana and Dakshinayana: This means the northward and southward passage of the sun respectively. Due to the inclination if earth's axis of rotation to the plane of its orbit round the sun the place where it rises shifts every day. On December 21st it is in the southernmost position and starts shifting northwards i.e. the Uttarayana starts on December 21st. It reaches the northernmost position six months later on June 21st when the southward journey or Dakshinayana starts. Yogis consider Uttarayana period as auspicious for leaving their body or Samadhi.
One full day of the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) is made up of one solar year. The Uttarayana period is considered as the daytime of the Devas and night-time of the Asuras and vice versa for Dakshinayana.
Yuga : There are four yugas viz. Krita (or Satya), Treta, Dwapar and Kali (with supposedly decreasing moral standards), These are respectively 4, 3, 2 and 1 times 432000 years in length i.e. 1,728,000, 1,296,000, 864,000 and 432,000 years respectively
. 1 Mahayuga = the length of the four yugas i.e. 4,320,000 years.
1 Manvantar (Period after which the reigning Manu the legendary chief of mankind changes to another Manu. There are 14 Manus stated in the Puranas) consists of 71 Mahayugas (306,720,000 solar years) . In between two Manvantars there is a intervening period equal to the length of Kritayuga during which there occurs the deluge. (Names of the 14 Manus are given later).
1 Kalpa = 14 Manvantars plus 14 intervening periods plus a fifteenth period of same length in the beginning of the Kalpa. Total length of a Kalpa in terms of solar years is 4,294,080,000 + 25,920,000 = 4,320,000,000 or 1000 Mahayugas.
Brahmadeo's day = 1 Kalpa or 1000 Mahayugas during which material world is created and destroyed in the end. This is followed by Brahmadeo's night of equal length. I.e. Brahmadeos day-night consists of 8,640,000,000 solar years.
Brahmadeo's lifespan consists of 100 years, each year being of 360 day-nights.
Names of the Manus: 1 Swayambhuva, 2 Swarichisha, 3 Uttama, 4 Taamas, 5 Raivata, 6 Chakshusha, 7 Vaivaswat, 8 Savarni, 9 Daksghasavarni, 10 Brahmasavarni, 11 Dharmasavarni, 12 Rudrasavarni, 13 Ruchi, 14 Bhuti.
Currently we are supposed to be in the reign of Vaivaswat Manu and out of his reign 27 Mahayugas have already elapsed. We are in the Kaliyuga of the 28th Mahayuga. According to Suryasiddhanta the current Kaliyuga is supposed to have started on 17 February of 3102 BC. It is supposed to have started on the day Shri Krishna died. This was 36 years after the Mahabharata war. However historical studies supported by scientific data put the war to have occurred a little earlier than 1000BC.
We can compare these numbers with what is known from scientific studies:

               ITEM               PURANAS                SCIENCE
         Age of the universe         1,972,949,102 y         14 x 10**9 y
                                 or approx 1.973 x 10**9 y
         Age of the earth          Not known*            4.6 x 10**9 y
         Creation of life           Not known*           3.8x10**9 y    to    2.5x10**9 y ago
         Creation of man          Not known*              Hominid 5x10**6 y ago
                                                                Modern man 30,000 y ago
* But Brahmadeo is supposed to have created them in short span of time. The term Vishwa is used both for the universe and earth in Puranas therefore there is a confusion about the context.


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Update: 2004-OCT-09
Last update: 2010-FEB-28