- brahma - yoga
Akshara means imperishable. Brahma is unmanifest God. Yoga means
to obtain. So, this chapter tells us about attaining the imperisable,
ever existing God
Arjuna asks Krishna to
explain the three terms spoken of in the last verse of 7th chapter. He
says to Krishna, "What is Brahma, what is Adhyatma, What is called
Karma, what do you call Adhibuta and Adhidaiva"? Also who is this
Adhiyagnya in the body and how can the people, who have controlled their
minds, remember you at the time of death?
Adhibhuta, Adhidaiva, Adhidnyana
In the next four verses
nos. 3 to 6 Krishna answers above questions.
Adhibhuta, Adhidaiva, Adhidnyana
"That which is
Akshara, means ever existing, imperishable something, is known as Brahma.
His eternal nature is called Adhyatma. Action which creates the Universe
with all living and non living entities, as well as action which
develops them, is Karma. The physical nature of all bodies which is
constantly changing is known as Adhibhuta, while the Universal form of
God is the Adhidaivay, and Adhiyagnya means superior Lord to whom all
sacrifices are offered in the body. He is none other than Myself. It is
also true that he who remembers Me at the time of death, comes to Me,
and becomes one with Me. Not only that but whatever state of being one
remembers at the time of death, one gets that state in the next life".
In general, many people
think that God is some being who lives in heaven. But it is not so. The
Sanskrit word denoting God is Brahma, which is different from the
Universe. The original, everexhisting Brahma, also called Akshars
because it is not perishable, is an energy. Nobody has been able to
trace its origin. Therefore, it is called ever existing. It manifested
itself into the five great elements and formed three forms viz..
Brahmadev, the creator, Vishnu the preserver and custodian; Shankara,
the destroyer. These three deities were formed by that energy which is
superior to all of them. This energy is everywhere. In fact, the
Ishavasya Upanishad tells us that this energy is everything. That's all
the explanation we can give about Brahma, the God. Because, as said
before, God is beyond the scope of understanding of senses, the mind or
the intellect. What they know is called knowledge. Thus we can have full
knowledge of this Universe and what it contains including other galaxies,
stars which are thousands of millions light years away from earth. Yet
we cannot know who is behind this. At the most, a dedicated and devoted
person can reach the three, Bramhadev, Vishnu and Shankar, but one
cannot know who created them. That who is God.
The word Adhyatma means
Adhi and Atma. Adhi means superior, Atma is that part of imperishable
energy which lives in the living beings and gives them life. The study
of science leading to the understanding of this superior energy, or God
is called Adhyatma.
Karma means movement
which is called action. This action takes place on physical, mental and
intellectual levels. The work of creation of Universe was the original
Karma. The Akshara or Brahma had a desire for it. In Vedas, it is
maintained that in the beginning there was a voice (coming from the
energy) which said, "I am one, I want to be many." That was
the desire. It started physical
action. We can assume, that before the process of creation started, then
was great thought given to it by the Universal mind and the final
decision was taken by the Universal Intellect. This was put into action
and Universal Ego was happy that the Universe was created. Since that
time, everything that is thought of, spoken or actioned is labelled as
Karma. That is the reason a human being cannot stay even for a second
without doing some Karma or other.
Karma means movement,
in any form. Movement means change. The word Adhibhuta means Adhi and
bhuta. Bhuta means being. The nature of changing of every being is
called Adhibuta because that is the main characteristic of every being.
While there is a change
in the bodies of all beings, there is something in each of them which
does not change. That superior, unchangeable entity of the entire
Universe is called Adhidaivat.
Yagnya means sacrifice.
To perform Yagnyas was a routine work in the past Yugas. A fire was lit
and sacred mantras were chanted. With each mantra chanting, something
was thrown in the sacred fire. Kings performed these Yagnyas to please
demigods, But the chief of all these demigods is Brahma, the God Himself.
In Kaliyuga, when we have to eat to live, the process of taking food is
called Yagnya and the one to whom this sacrifice of food goes, is Brahma
The rebirth of Atma in
another body is governed by Laws of Karma, one of which says that the
fruit of every Karma will go to him who has performed it, be it mentally,
physically or intellectually or by any of the senses. Each Karma is
recorded in the mind which is attached to the Atma. This Karma includes
unfulfilled desires, stored Vasana, likes, dislikes, hatred, debts of
any kind and killings, intentional injuries etc. The Atma is already
having so many of these bondage items creating Karma (Sanchita Karma).
It now gets these additional ones (Kriyamana Karma) from this life.
After death, all these are merged and become Sanchita Karma. From this,
some portion goes with the Atma when He takes new body, to suffer it
there. He cannot escape anything. Every action taken before, has to be
received back as reward or punishment, with the exception of non
The thought which is
prevalent in the mind at the time of death takes form. If any living
soul, at the time of death, has his or her mind permanently fixed on
God, with the exclusion of any other thought, then that soul goes to Him.
Once you are with Him, all your remaining Karmas disappear and you
remain with Him, a free soul. But it is not easy at all. The mind
is so deeply attached to material things that even while chanting the
name of God or listening to his Psalms, Bhajans praises, prayers, it
slips away to some other thought. But if you have been mentally attached
to Him for a better part of your life, if you have acquired the skill of
performing a Karma in non attached way, with strong determination you
can keep your mind free of all attachments except God, when you breathe
Therefore, make it a
habit to surrender all your Karma to Him and lead your life. Realize
that you are Him. You are doing your Karma, given to you by Him. He is
the Master and your "father in heaven". You must not let Him
down. So do the Karma, as per rules mentioned before and keep your
thoughts centered on Him, Find some time during the day to either go to
any of the Houses of God - Mandir, Mosque, Church, Synagog, Gurudwara or
any other holy place, or sit at home and get yourself engaged in such
work which will centre your thoughts on Him. e.g. worship, pray, sing
holy songs and God's praises, listen to them, meditate, read His story
If you do not believe
in doing any of these Karmas, because you are an atheist, do such Karmas
which will uplift poor, downtrodden individuals, by rendering them
unselfish service. You are a child of God, they are also His children.
When you serve them and give them what they need, your "father in
heaven" is pleased. You may not realize it, but you go nearer to
Him. When you pray God, what do you expect. You want Him to give you
that which you need but don't have, because you know that He has what
you need. If you give to some poor person what he needs but does not
have, and you have it, your are doing His work. Moreover you give
without being asked to do so. This Karma is of a great quality.
God at the time of death
People, in general,
have misunderstood the real meaning of the words of Krishna in verse no.
5, where He says, "He who remembers me at the time of death, comes
to Me, liberated from bondage." In India, parents used to name
their sons with any one of the thousands of names by which God is called
and remembered. The idea is to call your son's name, which will come
automatically on your lips, when you are about to die, and thus you call
God's name. So you will be free. It is not so. The word 'remember' has a
deep meaning. I will give you an example.
One person had seven
sons. Each one of them was given God's name like Krishna, Govinda, Rama
etc. The man was on his deathbed. All his sons were near him. Doctor had
said, that their father was sinking; pulse was dropping. He would pass
away any moment. The man also knew it. As he was looking at his sons, he
thought of their names. He was not able to utter clear words. He looked
around and was satisfied that all his children were near him. He noticed
his cat in a corner. He tried to speak to one of his son's by calling
his name, and died at that very moment. His last word was
"Govinda", which is a name of Krishna. But his thought was
"I hope the cat has been fed". He did not remember God. His
cat was more near and dear to him than God. Remembering God is not at
all easy. Just think for a while, how many times during your wakeful
hours do you REMEMBER God? You may pray, sing his Bhajans, recite
psalms, offer worship, but where is your mind at that time? Does it
think of Him to the exclusion of all other thoughts? If you do not know,
then make an experiment. While you worship or pray Him, check where your
mind runs and you will know. When we do not remember Him during a life
time, it is not possible that we will ever remember Him in our death.
Hence develop a practice now.
A Karmayogi has
capability of steadying his mind, due to the Karma perfection and non
attachment to Karma that he has practised over several years. He can,
whether he sits or is in bed lying down, concentrate his mind easily in
between his two eyebrows and lose his conscious mind in thinking of Him.
When he dies in that condition, he reaches God. Therefore one should try
to be a Karmayogi first. Of course, to achieve that state, one must
practise doing each of his Karmas in the right manner and in a non
manifestation of God in sound form-\-AUM
People who are Masters,
in the understanding of Vedas, understand what is "Akshara".
We have seen above, that the meaning of this word is imperishable. But
it also means, what we understand by the English word,
"alphabet". A single alphabet "a" or "b"
or "c" etc. is called a "letter" or an Akshara. More
than one Aksharas combine to form a word. Yet the original meaning of
"Akshara" is that something from which the first alphabet in
all languages was formed. This is the original sound which cannot be
explained by any letter or word. This sound is AUM generally pronounced
AUM and written as OM. This sound does not form any alphabet. It
represents Him, the imperishable God. This sound is ever existent,
everywhere. It is not perceptible to the sense of hearing because it is
God. This is the first manifestation of God in sound energy. This is the
origin of speech. You may speak any language in the world, the sound
that your voice produces has its origin in this Akshara.
Students of Vedic
Shastras who observe celibacy throughout their life, both in body and
mind, try to live a totally detached life, concentrate their energy on
this Akshara. Such a student with a severe practice tries to concentrate
his breath in between the two eyebrows. He shuts all the nine doors of
the body i.e. he does not allow the breath to go out from any of the
nine doors. This is possible, but has to be practised under the
directions and guidance of a Master who is an expert Yogi. Such a
person, then thinks and pronounces this Akshara- \-AUM continuously, simultaneously thinking of the supreme Brahma. When
he dies in that state he reaches God, the Akshara-Brahma.
underlying this technique or lesson, is that one should be continuously
thinking of God and remembering Him all the time, in wakeful, dream or
sleep state. The mind must not think of anything else even for a
billionth of a second. This means cutting of sense from their objects
and directing the mind to be away from its servants, the senses all the
time. Whether you do it by a severe penance, removing yourself away from
public life and sitting in seclusion practising this method; or learn to
live a life, doing all your Karmas, in a detached way, it is all the
same. The Dnyana is, that He has manifested Himself in sound energy as
this Akshara. That is Brahman. You can go into a Samadhi state, by above
hard practice and you will hear the Akshara Brahma yourself, originating
from the incoming breath. God is accessible to those who practise this
Yoga. These are the real Mahatmas. They are not born again. They attain
time concept - one day of Brahmadev
All the different
worlds in the Universe are perishable, because they are His creation.
The worlds are born so they must die. We do not know how many galaxies
are there up in space. We cannot measure its expanse because it has no
limiting boundaries, neigther in length, breadth or height. It is
without dimensions. As centuries after centuries go, we humans can make
progress and progress only to find new worlds, undiscovered before.
Means can be invented to reach some of these because they all are parts
of His creation. They all will perish one day, may be after billions of
years, but He, the Creator, the energy behind and within all of them
will always exist. Whatever perishes will again come to form. That is
how His laws work. We humans will also perish, so far as our physical
forms are concerned. We call it death. New form will be taken by the
same being. It will be a new birth. In this way, humans are caught up in
this unending cycle of birth-death-birth. The Atma, a tiniest portion of
His measureless energy gets tied up and chained to the Karma, only
because He is attached to it in body, mind, intellect and ego. But once
a human succeeds in crossing all the hurdles, by whatever means he uses,
and reaches God, he is freed from this cycle. He is not reborn. The time
of our world, as given in Vedas is interesting to read. Krishna tells
Arjuna in verse nos. 17,18,19, that four Yugas when pass in succession
for one thousand times, it becomes one day in the life of Brahmadev,
that part of God responsible for creation of the Universe. Then the same
period is counted for his one night. Those who understand this, really
know what is a day and what is a night.
For us, one day and one
night means 24 hours. Our time concept is thus based on the rotation of
earth around Sun. On this unit, we have hours, minutes, seconds on the
downward scale and weeks, months, years, decades, centuries on upward
scale. But a real Dnyani looks to one day or one night as that of
Brahmadeva's life, and understands that he will have many opportunities
in this one day to be reborn and continue his studies of God
realization. Because what a human being achieves mentally and
intellectually does not die. It stays with him in the earthly life. He
gets ample opportunities to uplift himself or herself from, however low
one may be placed, lowest to the highest position which crosses the
boundaries of creation.
To get an idea of what
a day in the life of Bramhadev is to us let us do some calculations. He
says passing of the four Yugas one thousand times in succession is one
day for Bramhadev. Alright! There are 4 Yugas, called Krita, Treta,
Dwapara and Kali. The period in number of years of each Yuga is in
descending order, the lowest is of Kaliyuga; and it is 4.32.000 years on
earth . So imagine what would be the total number of years on earth
would be when the total of four Yugas is added. It would be more than a
few millions. Multiply this total by 1000 and you run into billions.
This is one day for Bramhadeva. In this time period on earth, imagine
how many lives one can have. Restrict yourself to be born again and
again in this Kaliyuga, which has completed about 5000 years of its
total period of 4.32.000 years so far, and see how many more times you
would be born. Mind you, it is not necessary that each of these lives
would be of a human being. The law say you will reap what you will sow.
If your Karmas are good, you stand a chance of being again born a human
quickly. If by far they are bad or worse, you may get the bodies of any
other creature or creatures till you complete your punishment of fixed
number of years and are then given a chance to be human again. Do not,
therefore, regard this present life of yours as be all and end all. No,
Sir and Madam, your are here to live many lives. You decide now, what
next life you wish to have and do some good Karma, before it is too
late. Because death may strike its blow any time. Understand this
principle of one day and one night of Bramhadev and what it means to
you. The significance of this great day and great night is, that when is
day ends and is night comes, all beings in this world perish. They go in
unmanifested form, each one with one's own Karma, desires, Vasanas etc.
They lie dormant, as if stored in cryogenic atmosphere, frozen at
temperatures, hundreds of degrees below zero. They are not reborn. It is
only when Brahmadev finishes his night of so many Billions of years on
earth, that his day dawns. When that happens, all these frozen embryos
come back to life. You, the Atma, in your present body, will spring up
again at that time if you have not been successful in getting out of
this dreaded cycle. Because, come what may, as the years on earth pass
by, in the remaining 4.27.000
years of this earth, there will be more and more chaos, anarchy,
treachery, immorality; and all bad things will thrive because this
is Kaliyuga. The purpose of Gita in Kaliyuga must therefore, be
The great satisfaction
we can have, in this web of time and life that we are caught in, is we
do have a chance to get out of this. And this chance is during this life
time. Because all this applies to the manifested form. Our manifested
form the physical body, will no doubt die. Let it go. But the
unmanifested Atma, the energy, the real you can be free. Even if the
whole Universe perishes, once you are free now, you remain free forever.
You can really enjoy everything. You would be permanently in that
blissful state which is beyond any happiness and sensual pleasures. This
unmanifested being, the one who created the Universe and the one in your
own body, the real you is called "Akshara". That is the
beginning of the beginning. That is God's abode. There is nothing
greater or beyond it. Once you reach there, by knowing Yourself as
Akshara in your own body, you never are reborn in any physical form.
I think, now is the
time to talk about a few facts of time, the period of each Yuga and get
to know where we stand. The four Yugas together are called one Kalpa.
Period of these four Yugas is as follows. Krita or Satya Yuga is
1.728.000 years; Tretayuga is 1.296.000 years, Dwaparayuga is 864.000
years and Kaliyuga is 432.000 years. Dwapara is twice as big as Kali.
Treta is three times and Satya is four times larger than our age, the
Kaliyuga. The total period comes to 4.320.000 years. Multiplied by 1000,
it comes to 4.320.000.000 years. More than 4 billion years. this is just
one day in the life of Bramhadev in whose form God created Universe. In
that one day, the individual Atmas, souls of living beings have
innumerable lives to get free from the bondage and return to Paramatma,
the God. The energy contained in physical bodies can get free and merge
into its original state.
living beings, countless birth for one Atma
But, as said before,
all different physical bodies of an Atma will not necessarily be human.
you know how many types of animals, birds, reptiles, fish, worms, other
creatures are there in this
world. Add to them plants, shrubs, trees. They also have life. It is
said there are 8.400.000 different kinds of beings. You, the Atma, could
be born in any one of them.
All of them except,
human life, are just to pay for bad Karma. It is only this life, as a
human being, that you will pay for bad Karma of the past, get reward for
the good one; and also have the opportunity to use your intellect and
perform Karmas in non detached way and throw away the chain which binds
you to the species of this world, once for all. Because, once you reach
God, all the Karmas, good and bad die away, the seeds of Vasanas are
burnt and there remains nothing to put you in chains again. His abode,
the residence of God is the highest goal to be achieved, the highets
peak to be conquered. He is attainable only by undiluted purest love and
devotion to Him.
paths for a Yogi after death
In verses nos. 23 to
27, Krishna tells Arjuna the two ways open for a Karmayogi to go to
higher worlds, when his human body dies. After the death of physical
body, the Atma with its chains around, is carried away by some presiding
deity such as Agni (fire), light, day and night, as well as, the two
fortnights of the four weeks of moon phases. Krishna says, A Yogi knows
these periods. He can arrange the passage of himself (the Atma)when
either Agni, light, day, the first fortnight of the moon and a day in
the six months when the sun travels to the north prevails. In these
conditions a Yogi's death takes him straight to God. As against this,
his death in smoke, the night, the second fortnight of the moon
(declining phases) or the six months when the sun passes to the south,
takes him to higher worlds from where he has to come back. He does not
reach God then. A Yogi who, (the Atma) thus goes up, is said to reach
the moon, in luminous form, for several years before his time comes to
be born on earth.
According to the Vedas,
there are two ways of passing from this world, one in light and the
other in darkness. He who travels in light does not return. He who
travels in light must come back. But a Yogi is fully aware of these two
paths and therefore he does not get bewildered. Hence, Krishna emphasise
son Arjuna the need of becoming a Yogi, i.e. to do his Karma (fighting
in the war) in a non detached manner.
In the last verse no.
28 of this chapter, Krishna says, a Yogi knows that the reward one gets
by performing good Karma when he is attached to it is nothing compared
to his reaching God's eternal abode. Rewards received by following Vedic
practices, performing austere sacrifices, giveng charity, pursuing
philosophical and attached Karma which ends in fruition, are all
meaningless in comparison with the riches he obtains when he enters his
father's home. Thus ends the chapter on Akshara-Brahma-Yoga
From the preceding
chapters we realise that as human beings we are bound by Laws of Karma
which are very clear. This life of ours is not the only existence we
have. We were on this earth many times before and will be reborn many
times. This rebirth depends upon our Karmas. This cycle of death and
rebirth will go on endlessly till one day of Bramahadev is over. Even if
we limit our thinking to this present Kaliyuga, we still have 427.000
years to live, in this Yuga. This Yuga is a Yuga of misery, which, as
the years go by, will increase. There will be a rule of treachery,
cheating, dishonesty, breach of trust and so on. Do you want to be born
again and again endlessly, deluded by what sensual pleasures you enjoy
at present? Think it over. Take some time and think seriously. Because
whether you like it or not, whether you believe in this or not, you will
undergo the cycle and pay for your bad Karmas, receive rewards for good
ones, be hounded and harassed by bad people in every life till you come
out of this cycle.