Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Jneyam, the Supreme Brahman.

Gita essays 22

Arjuna wanted to know from Lord Krishna about six technical terms of Vedanta.  Lord explained about three terms, Kshetram, Kshetrajna and Jnanam in verses 1 to 12 of Chapter 13 of Gita. From verse 13, Lord started explaining about Jneyam. Jneyam means that which is to be known.  In verse 13 Lord Krishna says “It is the supreme Brahman which is beginningless”. That means Jneyam stands for Paramathma, and Lord has defined earlier Kshetrajna as Paramathma which means that Jeyam is synonymous with Kshetrajna and both refer to Supreme Brahman.  As Brahma Jnanam is same as Ikya Jnanam, one with Brahma Jnanam realizes the identity of his Real Self with Brahman and no longer feels he is a mortal self essentially. Therefore Lord adds that knowing that which is to be known, one attains immortality.  Further Brahman is the topic of Upanishads which are referred to as Brahma Vidya.  So as explanation for Jneyam, Lord is giving the condensed essence of Upanishads in verses 13 to 19.  Let me also refer to Jneyam as Brahman hereafter. 

In verse 13, Lord describes Brahman as beginningless and beyond Sat and Asat.  Brahman being beyond Time is beginningless. Brahman is the all-pervading Pure Consciousness and It is the only subject and everything else is object. Being subject only and also the pervading principle, it cannot be perceived and so it cannot be said to be Sat.  Because it alone lends sentiency to all beings and makes them sentient, it cannot said to be Asat also. Being neither Sat nor Asat, it is beyond both. As one perceiving principle behind all perceptions of all living beings It is described in the next verse 14 as “With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, with ears everywhere It exists in the world, enveloping all.” Then Lord proceeds to describe the indescribable Brahman in paradoxes following the method adopted in Upanishads.

In verse 15, Lord describes  “Shining by the functions of all the sense organs, yet without the sense organs; unattached, yet supporting all; devoid of qualities, yet their experiencer”.  The Pure Consciousness as the Real Self in us functioning through the sense organs looks as though It possesses all sense organs. But the sense organs decay and perish while the Pure Consciousness which functions through them and which provides each of them with its own individual faculty is eternal and changeless, just as electricity is not the light in the bulb or sound in the radio and yet when it functions through the bulb it looks as if it were light, and when it functions through the radio it looks as if it were sound.  Further the world of plurality is not the Consciousness but it is the Consciousness that supports the world of multiplicities just as cotton in the cloth.  Cotton is in the cloth but cloth is not the cotton. And it is the cotton in the cloth that supports the cloth.  Again Consciousness conditioned by the mind is the Jiva which is the experiencer of the Gunas and Pure Consciousness by itself as ‘the Absolute' is free of Gunas and their effects.

In verse 16 Lord elaborates on the all-pervasive nature of Brahman.  Brahman is described as being “outside and inside living beings, unmoving and moving.  far and near. Unknowable being subtle.”  Pure Consciousness is all-pervading, formless and manifests through mediums only. So inside living beings it is in manifest condition and outside it stays unmanifest.  As It is all pervasive it cannot move and so unmoving.  It is all encompassing and so in moving objects it looks as if it is moving. As Absolute, it looks far away for the ignorant; but being one’s own Self it is near for the wise.  Being the intelligence of intelligence, it is not knowable to the intelligence.

In verse 17 Lord describes Brahman as “undivided, appearing as if divided in beings and also the creator, the destroyer, and the sustainer of all beings.” Although space is one entity it looks divided as room space, pot space etc.  Same way Brahman manifesting in various mediums appear to be divided in them.  Waves rise from Ocean, stay and play on the surface of the ocean and finally go back into the ocean.  Ocean can be said to be the creator, sustainer and destroyer of waves.  Same way Brahman being the substratum for the entire cosmos, to an Ajnani, It appears to be the creator, sustainer and destroyer of this world of plurality with all its beings.

 In verse 18, Lord describing Brahman states “It is the light of all lights and is beyond darkness. As Knowledge, the object of knowledge, the goal of knowledge, It is seated in the hearts of all.”  We perceive the outer world through sense-organs, made sentient by Brahman, the Pure Consciousness.  So Brahman is compared to light here.  It is the light of all lights because without Consciousness none of the lights including Sun could be perceived.  Consciousness is light Absolute; so there can be no darkness there, as darkness is only the absence of light.  So It is beyond darkness.  It is the Consciousness that makes all our experiences possible and illumines our life and It is also our Real Self.  To gain knowledge of this Self is the ultimate goal of all spiritual sadhanas. Though Consciousness pervades all over the body, it is considered as manifested in the spiritual heart from where all noble thoughts emanate, for the purpose of meditation. So It is said to dwell in the hearts of all.  In verse 19 Lord Krishna while talking about Kshetram, Kshetrajna, Jnanam and Jneyam, glorifies this knowledge as the only one which leads the seeker to Him. 

The description of Brahman by the Lord in the above verses is composed of Upanishadic statements only can be seen from a few Mantras from the Upanishads quoted below:
It (Brahman) moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this (Isavasya Upanishad, 5)
That Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, and subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far and yet is here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of conscious beings. (Mundakopanishad, 3-1-7)
His(Brahman’s) hands and feet are everywhere; His eyes, heads, and faces are everywhere; His ears are everywhere; He exists encompassing all. (Swetasvatara Upanishad, 3-16)
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor the lightning, not to speak of this fire. When He shines, everything shines after Him; by His light everything is lighted. (Mundakopanishad, 2-2-10)
“---luminous, like the sun, and beyond darkness ---“ (Swetasvatara Upanishad, 3-8)
“---light of lights ---“(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,4-4-16).

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Kshetram, Kshetrajna & Jnanam

Gita essays – 21

Eighteen chapters of Gita are divided into three shatkams of six chapters each.  As per Swami Paramarthananda each shatkam focuses on three important topics. Prayatna, Karma yoga and Jiva svarupa jnanam are the three important topics in the first shatkam; Prasada, Upasana yoga and Isvara svarupa Jnanam in the second shatkam and Sadgunas, Jnana yoga and Aikya jnanam in the third shatkam.  Of the the three important topics of the third shatkam which starts from Chapter 13, Aikya jnanam is the main topic, Jnana Yoga is sadhana for this Jnanam, and Sadgunas, the essential qualification to absorb this Jnanam.

Chapter 13, the first chapter of the third shatkam, opens with a question of Arjuna seeking clarification regarding six technical terms used in Vedanta.  The six terms are; Prakrithi, Purusha, Kshertam, Kshetrajna, Jnanam and Jneyam.  Lord Krishna first takes up the words Kshetram and Kshetrajna.  Kshetram is defined as the body, which implies the body-mind complex, for Kshetram means that which decays i.e. kṣiyathe iti kṣetraṁ.  Body-mind complex being made of pancha bhuthas is subject to change and decay and is insentient.  It is only the unchanging Athma that makes the body-mind complex sentient.  Lord Krishna by defining Kshetrajna as the knower of the body implies that Athma is Kshetrajna in the body.  From this it follows that Kshetram, the body-mind complex, is anathma.  To prevent the misunderstanding that there is separate Athma for each body, Lord clarifies that Kshetrajna is one only in all bodies and that is Lord Himself i.e. ParamathmaAthma in individual body is called Jivathma.  So this means that Jivathma is none other than Paramathma, which is termed as Jivathma Paramathma Ikyam.   He further explains that this knowledge about Kshetram and Kshetrajna is the real knowledge called Jnanam.  From what we have seen, we can now call Knowledge about Kshetram and Kshetrajna either as Aikyaa Jnanam or as Athma jnanam as both the terms are synonymous and here Lord calls it the real Jnanam.

After this introduction Lord goes on to describe Kshetram in detail in verses 6 and 7.
“The five subtle elements, Ahankara, Intellect and also unmanifested Nature (Mula Prakrithi), ten sense organs, Mind, and the five objects of senses, desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the body-mind complex, intelligence, fortitude --- all this, enumerated above briefly, is Kshetram together with its modifications.” (verses 6 & 7)
Five subtle elements (space, air, fire, water and earth), Ahamkara (Cosmic ego), Intellect (Mahat, cosmic intellect), the Unmanifested (Avyaktha), Ten sense organs (five sense organs of perception plus five sense organs of action), Mind together with the five objects of senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) constitute 24 factors which are the same as the 24 principles (tattvas) of the Sankhyan Philosophy. To these is added their modifications such as desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the assemblage of body, mind and intellect, intelligence and fortitude in Lord’s definition of Kshetram.  In short the entire objective universe including body, mind, sensory system, mental, emotional, intellectual ideas that are knowable excepting the Consciousness which is the Subject constitute Kshetram or Field and they are all matter only. The Consciousness, the Subject and the Knowing Principle, is the only sentient principle, and that will come under Kshetrajna, the knower of the Field, which Lord will discuss in detail under Jneyam and Purusha, which also refer to Consciousness only. When discussing Purusha, Kshetram as Prakrithi will also be discussed further.

Lord takes up next Jnanam for discussion and under this head elaborates on the moral qualities and virtues, referred to earlier as Sadgunas, which cultivates the mind for assimilating Athma Jnanam.  In verses, from 8 to 12, He discusses 20 Sadgunas. They are
1)    Amanitvam – Humility, absence of vanity and self-conceit
2)    Adambitvam – Unpretentiousness, not trumpeting one’s own glory
3)    Ahimsa – Non-violence, not harming other living beings intentionally
4)    Ksanti – Forbearance, patiently bearing with all persons and situations without getting stressed
5)    Arjavam – Uprightness, straightforwardness in behaviour
6)    Achryopasanam – Service to the teacher with reverence and sraddha.
7)    Saucham – purity, external and internal involving purity of thoughts and emotions.
8)    Sthairyam – Steadfastness, concentration of all efforts to achieve the spiritual goal
9)    Athma vinigrahaha – Self-control, Restraint of Self in dealing with others
10) Indriyartheshu vairagyam – Dispassion or absence of attachment for sense objects
11) Anahankara – Absence of egoism
12)  Janma mrityu jara vyadhi dukha dosha anudarsanam – Thorough understanding of the changes every physical body undergoes i.e. birth, death, old age and sickness with all its accompanying sorrows and troubles.  This awareness of pain and sorrow steels one in his spiritual efforts.
13)  Asakthih – Non-attachment, without mamakara, feeling of mineness
14) Anabhisvangah putra dara grhadishu – Absence of excessive love (without intense attachment) towards child, wife, home and the like
15)  Nityam cha sama chittatvam ishta-nishtopa pathishu – Even-mindedness in all circumstances, desirable and undesirable.
16)  Mayi cha ananya yogena bhakthiravyabhicharini – Unflinching devotion to Me (the Lord) by ananya yoga
17)  Viviktha desa sevitvam – Resort to solitary places
18)  Aratir jana samsadhi – Distaste for crowds and crowded social life
19)  Adhyathma Jnana nityatvam – Constant pursuit of Self-knowledge with the practice of moral values.
20)  Tatva Jnanartha darsanam – Realisation of the purpose of True knowledge.

These Sadgunas described from Verse 8 to Verse 12 are declared to be the true `knowledge' by the Lord because when they are fully acquired, then the mind is ripe to absorb the true knowledge of the Self.  Lord also declares that the contrary qualities such as pride, hypocrisy, cruelty, impatience, insincerity and the like are only ignorance as they lead to perpetuation of Samsara.