Narach Philosophy

CHAPTER 8: AKSHARA BRAHMA YOGA


The eighth chapter is called "Akshara Brahma Yoga" or "The Imperishable Brahma in the light of Yoga". Krishna tells Arjuna about the five elements (Adhibhuta) of the physical world (which are the basis of Sankhya philosophy); then He explains what relates to God (Adhidaiva) and how the two concepts are linked together through the idea of Sacrifice (Adhiyajna).

Those who follow the path of the physical world are born again and again for they have chosen to belong in the manifest world and so must become manifest repeatedly; but those who follow the path of God will cease to be reborn when they achieve perfection in their chosen path.

Arjuna said:

What is Brahma, and Adhyatma,
And Action, O thou Lord supreme?
And tell me what is called Adhibhuta,
And also what is called Adhidaiva.

And tell me thou what is Adhiyajna;
How dwells it in the bodily frame?
How art thou known at time of death
By those who have controlled their soul?

The Blessed Lord said:

Brahma is the unchangeable;
His innate nature's Adhyatma;
The sacrifice creating and
Supporting all is Action called.

His perishable form's Adhibhuta;
And Adhidaiva is the Purusha called;
And I am he that is Adhiyajana,
Abiding in the bodily frame.

At time of death, remembering me,
Who leaves this body and departs,
Unto my nature be attains;
There is in that no doubt indeed.

Whatever form remembers he,
When from this body he departs,
To that he goes, O Kunti's son,
Intent upon it evermore.

Therefore do thou at all times
Remember me alone, and fight;
With mind and Buddhi fixed on me,
Thou will come to me without a doubt.

By practice perfect made in Yoga,
With mind not wandering anywhere,
Who think of the supreme, divine,
Unto Him ever he attains.

Omniscient, ancient, ruler of the world,
Minuter than an atom, and of form
Beyond conception, and supporting all,
Away from darkness, radiant like the sun;

Who meditates on Him at time of death,
With steady mind, devotion, strength of Yoga,
Fixing his breath between the eyebrows still,
To Him, the Lord supreme, divine, he goes.

I will tell the briefly all about that place,
Which knowers of Veda call imperishable,
The ascetics' goal when freed from all desires,
Desiring which, they practise continence.

Controlling all the senses, who
Confines the mind within the soul,
His breath unto his head he draws,
Engaged in exercise of Yoga;

Remembering me, and uttering Om,
That Brahma centered in one word,
Leaving his body, who departs,
He doth attain the goal supreme.

I am easily attained by him,
The Yogi who remembers me,
To me devoted constantly,
With mind not wandering anywhere.

Attaining me, the high-souled ones,
Supreme perfection who have gained,
Come not again to mortal birth,
So transient and the home of pain.

Up to the world of Brahma, all
The worlds are subject to return;
But he who doth attain to me,
No re-birth knows, O Kunti's son.

They who know a day of Brahma
Doth last a thousand ages long,
And thousand ages too his night,
They know what is a night and day.

At day's approach, the manifest
Proceedeth from the unmanifest;
When night approaches, it dissolves
Into that called the unmanifest.

This multitude of beings all,
That is re-born again, again,
Dissolveth at the approach of night,
And issues forth when day appears.

Beyond this life unmanifest,
There is one more unmanifest,
The eternal that can never die
When perish all the creatures here.

The changeless and the unmanifest
Is also called the highest goal,
That is my own supreme abode,
Attaining which, doth none return.

The Lord supreme maybe attained
By worship unto Him alone;
In whom do creatures all abide,
By whom is life pervaded all.

And now, O best of Bharata race,
I'll tell thee when the Yogis pass,
And parting from the world, return,
Or else when they return no more.

Fire, light, and day, the bright fortnight,
The Sun's six months of northern path,
In these departing from the world,
The Brahma-knowers to Brahma go.

And smoke and night, the dark fortnight,
The Sun's six months of southern path,
Departing then, the Yogi goes
To Moon's abode, and then returns.

These are the paths, the bright and dark,
Deemed as eternal in this world;
By the one he goes and never returns,
By the other comes he back again.

Knowing these paths, O Pritha's son,
Deluded can no Yogi be;
Therefore be, O Arjuna,
At all times steady in thy Yoga.

What holy fruit can be obtained by alms,
Or Vedas, penances, and sacrifice,
The Yogi, knowing this, excels it all,
And gains that place, primeval and supreme.

NOTES:

Brahma and Adhyatma: The innate nature of Brahma refers to the soul; that is to say, Brahma, the Lord, is the soul.

Sacrifice and action: Sacrifice is here defined as action which creates and supports life.

Brahma and Adhibhuta: The perishable form of God refers to the elements; that is to say, the five elements and all that belongs to them are perishable, though created by God. They perish in the sense that they change from one form to another, and so the previous form may be said to perish.

Adhidaiva is Purusha: The supreme Purusha is said to be the Lord, or what relates to him.

Adhiyajna and Krishna: The idea of the supreme Purusha of Vedanta Is born- out of Sacrifice, as we have explained; and so Krishna may be identified with Sacrifice; and it is in this form that he dwells in the body of each created being. In other words, whenever an act of Sacrifice is performed by a person, it implies that Krishna is in him.

Remembering Krishna: Whenever we think of God, he is with us, and so we go unto him.

Controlling the Mind and Breath: These are Yoga practices by means of which one is said to attain to whatever he desires.

Om and Brahma: The syllable Om is closely associated with Prana or Breath, the energy of the Soul or Brahma. Hence Brahma is here identified with Om, as in an earlier place he is with the Soul. We have pointed out that Brahma is the supreme Purusha of all systems of thought, including Vedanta, in the Upanishads; and Vedanta is based on the character of the Soul.

The Worlds of Brahma: Here Brahma is conceived in a different sense to that of the God of Vedanta; and so his world is said to be inferior to that of Krishna, the deity of that system. Brahma is the deity of Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems of thought as well.

The day and night of Brahma: Innumerable years are said to make the day and night of Brahma. It is said that a year of men is equal to a day and night of the Gods. Twelve thousand such years form a cycle of time, consisting of the four Yugas or Ages, Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali; and a thousand such cycles form a single day of Brahma. The idea is that Time is almost infinite.

Creation and dissolution of the universe: Day is symbolic of Purusha or God, and night of Prakriti. All life belongs to the former, and death to the latter. Hence we are told that all life is created when the day of Brahma dawns, and it comes to an end when his night approaches.

Beyond the world of Brahma: The highest system of thought is Vedanta, so the highest God is Krishna, its deity. Hence the world of Krishna is higher than that of Brahma.

The two paths - the dark and bright: All life is rendered in terms of Purusha and Prakriti. The one is symbolized in terms of light, and the other of darkness; and life belongs to Purusha, and death to Prakriti.

Hence those who pass away when there is light, go to Purusha; but those who die when darkness prevails, go to Prakriti, or the world of the manifest. And so the latter are born again and again. Those who are merged in God, are perfect, and so have no need to be reborn.