Author Topic: CHAPTER 8 - Abhyasa Yoga  (Read 424 times)


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CHAPTER 8 - Abhyasa Yoga
« on: April 09, 2019, 11:57:30 PM »
The seven things to be realized by meditation

In vii 29, 30 such things have been mentioned by the Lord as have given occasion to Arjuna to put a question. Accordingly, Arjuna proceeds to ask thus:

Arjuna said:
1 - 2. What is that Brahman? What about the Individual Self (Adhyatma)? What is action (Karma), O Purushottama? And what is declared to be the physical region (Adhibhuta) And what is the divine region (Adhidaiva) said to be? And how and who is Adhiyajna (the Entity concerned with Sacrifice) here in this body, O Madhusudana, and how at the time of death art Thou to be known by the self-controlled?
The Lord proceeds to answer these questions in their order:

The Blessed Lord said:
3. Brahman is the Imperishable (Akshara), the Supreme. The Ego is said to be the Individual Self (Adhyatma, He who dwells in the body). The offering which causes the origin of physical beings is called action (Karma).

Brahman is the Akshara, the Imperishable, the Supreme Self (Paramatman); the sruti says " O Gargi, it is at the command of this Akshara, the Imperishable Paramatman, that heaven and earth remain, held in their places." (Bri. Upanishad, 3 - 8 - 9). ‘Akshara ‘does not here mean the syllable "Om"; for, the latter is subsequently specified thus; - "Uttering the syllable 'Om,’ the Brahman" (viii. 13). And the epithet ‘supreme’ applies better to Brahman, the Imperishable, who transcends all, (than to the syllable 'Om'). The same Supreme Brahman existing as the Ego, as the Innermost Self, as the Pratyagatman, in every individual body, is said to be Adhyatma: that which first shows itself as the Innermost Self in the body and turns out in the end to be identical with the Supreme Reality, the Brahman, is known by the term ‘Adhyatma". The sacrificial act which consists in offering cooked rice, cakes and the like to the Gods (Devatas), and which causes the origin of all creatures, is known by the term ‘Karma’; for, it forms the seed as it were of all beings; it is in virtue of this act that all beings, animate and inanimate, come into existence, after passing through rain and other regions of life.

4. The physical region (Adhibuta) is the perishable existence, and Purusha or the Soul is the divine region (Adhidaivata). The Adhiyajna (Entity concerned with Sacrifice) is Myself, here in the body, O best of the embodied.
The Adhibhuta is that which gathers itself round the whole animated creation and is composed of the whole perishable existence, i.e., of everything that has birth. Purusha is, literally, that by which everything is filled, (pri = to fill) or that which lies in the body (pur), i.e., the Hiranyagarbha, the Universal Soul abiding in the Sun (Aditya), the Sustainer and the Stimulator of the sense - organs of all living beings. Adhiyajnas He who identifies himself with all acts of sacrifice, the Deity named Vishnu; the sruti says: " Yajna (Sacrifice) is verily Vishnu." (Taittiriya - Samhita, 1 - 7 - 4) He is verily Myself. I am the Deity concerned with all acts of sacrifice in the body. - As an act of sacrifice (yajna) has to be performed by the body, it is said to be inherent in it, and as such it may be said to rest in the body.

5. And whoso, at the time of death, thinking of Me alone, leaves the body and goes forth, he reaches My being; there is no doubt in this.
Me: Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. My being: My real being: as Vishnu. In this: as to whether he reaches or not.

Constant meditation of the Divine is necessary
Not to Me alone does this rule apply; but also:

6. Of whatever Being thinking at the end a man leaves the body. Him alone, O son of Kunti, reaches he by whom the thought of that Being has been constantly dwelt upon.
Being: a particular Devata or Deity. At the end: at the time of life's departure. Him alone: Only the Being thought of, and no other. Dwelt upon: constantly meditated. Because thus the final thought determines the character of the body to be attained next,

7. Therefore at all times do thou meditate on Me and fight: with mind and reason fixed on Me thou shalt doubtless come to Me alone.
Meditate: According to the Teaching (sastra). Fight: do thou perform thy proper duty of fighting. Me: Vasudeva. Come to Me: as meditated upon by thee.

The Divine Being to be meditated upon

8. Meditating with the mind engaged in the Yoga of constant practice, not passing over to anything else, one goes to the Supreme Purusha, the Resplendent, O son of Pritha.
Practice consists in the repetition of one and the same idea, uninterrupted by any other thought, with reference to Me, the sole object of your thought. Such a practice is itself said to be Yoga. With the mind thus solely engaged in Yoga, not passing over to any other object, the Yogi who meditates according to the teaching of the scripture and of the teacher - of the sastra and acharya - reaches the Purusha, the Transcendental Being in the Solar Orb. What sort of Purusha does he reach? Listen:

9 - 10. Whoso meditates on the Sage, the Ancient, the Ruler, smaller than an atom, the Dispenser of all, of unthinkable nature, glorious like the Sun, beyond the darkness, (whoso meditates on such a Being) at the time of death, with a steady mind endued with devotion and strength of Yoga, well fixing the life - breath betwixt the eyebrows, he reaches that Supreme Purusha Resplendent.
Sage: The Omniscient. The Ruler: of the whole world. Dispenser: who allots to all living beings actions and their results in all their variety. It is very difficult for anybody to conceive of His form though it exists. Like the Sun, He is glorious with the splendor of His Eternal Intelligence (Nitya-Chaitanya) which is beyond the darkness of delusion or nescience (Ajnana). The strength of Yoga consists in the steadiness of mind which results from the after-effects of the (constant practice of) samadhi. At first the mind (chitta) is subdued in the lotus of the heart (hridayapundarika); then, by means of the up-going nadi (sushumna), after gradually obtaining control over the several stages of matter (earth and the other four rudimental elements), the life-breath of the heart is drawn up and carefully fixed betwixt the eyebrows. By this means the wise man, the Yogi, reaches the Supreme Purusha, who is resplendent.

Meditation of the Divine in the Pranava
The Lord now assigns a name to that Brahman whom the Yogi wishes to reach by means to be pointed out again in the sequel, and who will be now described in such terms as ‘being declared by the knowers of the Veda, etc.:

11. That Imperishable Goal which the knowers of the Veda declare, which the self-controlled and the passion-free enter, which desiring they load the godly life, - That Goal will I declare to thee with brevity.
Those who understand the teaching of the Veda declare the Imperishable as devoid of any attribute whatsoever. The sruti says: "This verily is that (which you wished to know of), the Imperishable, O Gargi, as the brahmanas (the knowers of the Brahman) declare, ‘not gross, not subtle" etc. (Bri - Up. 3 - 8 - 8.) The samnyasins, ever controlling themselves, free from passion, enter the Imperishable, on attaining to right knowledge.
And desiring to know the Imperishable they enter on godly life (Brahmacharya) with a Guru. Of That Goal which is called Akshara, the Imperishable, I shall tell thee with brevity. Having started with the words “He who verily among men meditates on the syllable ‘Om ‘till death, what region will he thereby attain to?” he (Pippalada) said to him (Satyakama): "O Satyakama, this, the Brahman, the Higher and the Lower, is the syllable ‘Om'." (Prasna - Upanishad, 5 - i, 2); and it was subsequently said: "He who will meditate on the Supreme Purusha by the three-lettered syllable ‘Om’ - he is borne up by the Sama-hymns to the Brahma-loka, to the region of Brahman." (Ibid, 5 - 5). Again, having started with the words "Elsewhere than in dharma and elsewhere than in adharma, tell me what thou seest;" (Katha - Upanishad, 2 - 13), the sruti says, "that goal which all the Vedas speak of (i.e., are intended for), which all the austerities speak of, desiring which they lead the life of Brahmacharya (celibacy), that goal I tell thee in brevity: It is this, the syllable 'Om’" (Ibid 2 - 14). In such passages as these, the syllable ‘Om’, regarded either as an expression of the Para- Brahman or as a symbol of Him like an idol, is intended for persons of dull and middling intellects as a means of knowing the Para-Brahman; and the contemplation of the ‘Om’is said to produce moksha at a subsequent period. Now, the same contemplation (conjoined with firmness in Yoga) of the syllable 'Om', productive of mukti at a subsequent period - the ‘Om’ forming, as shown above, a means of knowing the Para-Brahman described here (viii. 9, 11) - has to be taught here as well as some minor matters connected with the main subject. With this view, the Lord proceeds with the sequel:

12 - 13. Having closed all the gates, having confined mind in the heart, having fixed his life breath in the head, engaged in firm Yoga, uttering Brahman, the one-syllabled 'Om,’ thinking of Me, whoso departs, leaving the body, he reaches the Supreme Goal.
Having closed all the avenues of knowledge and having concentrated thought in the lotus of the heart, and with thought thus controlled, he ascends by the Nadi which passes upwards from the heart, and then fixing life-breath in the head, he utters the syllable ‘Om’, the appellation of the Brahman, and meditates on Me - Leaving the body shows the mode of departure. The departure takes place by the Self leaving the body, not by the Self being destroyed. No rebirth on attaining to the Divine Being

14. Whoso constantly thinks of Me and long, to him I am easily accessible, O son of Pritha, to the ever-devout Yogi.
He who thinks of Me, the Supreme Lord, long - i.e., not for six months or a year, but uninterruptedly throughout life, - to that Yogi who is ever steadfast in thought, I am easily accessible. This being so, therefore, without thinking of another, one should ever dwell steadfast in Me. It may be asked, "What if Thou art easily accessible?" - Listen; I shall tell you of what use is My being thus easily accessible:

15. Having attained to Me, they do not again attain birth, which is the seat of pain and is not eternal, they having reached highest perfection.
Having attained to Me, the Isvara, having reached My being, they are not again subject to birth. Birth here is the seat of ah pain arising from the body, etc., and is of an ever-changing nature. Having reached the highest stage called moksha, they do not attain birth again. Those, on the other hand, who do not attain to Me, return again (to the earth). Do those again return who have reached any other being than Thyself? Listen:

16. (All) worlds including the world of Brahma are subject to returning again, O Arjuna; but, on reaching Me, O son of Kunti, there is no rebirth.

The Day and the Night of Brahma
Why are all the worlds including the world of Brahma subject to returning? Because they are limited by time. How?

17. They - those people who know day and night - know that the day of Brahma is a thousand yugas long and the night is a thousand yugas long.
Brahma is the Prajapati, the Viraj. Those persons who know how to compute Time know that Brahma's day is a thousand yugas long, and that His night is of the same duration as His day. Because the worlds are thus limited by time, therefore they return again. What takes place during the Prajapati's day and what takes place during His night will now be described:

18. From the Unmanifested all the manifestations proceed at the coming on of day; at the coming on of night they dissolve there only, in what is called the Unmanifested.
The Unmanifested (Avyakta) is the sleeping condition of the Prajapati who is asleep. Out of That, all manifestations (vyaktis), all creatures, unmoving and moving (sthavara and jangama), are manifested at the coming on of day, i.e., when Brahma awakes. So, at the coming on of night, i.e., when Brahma goes to sleep, all the manifestations dissolve there only, in what is called Avyakta, the one already spoken of. With a view to avoid the fallacious implication that a man reaps the fruits of what he has not done, or that he does not reap the fruits of what he has done, with a view to show that the teaching of the scripture concerning bondage (bandha) and liberation (moksha) has a purpose to serve, and with a view further to teach detachment from sawsira by shoving that, as the effect of karma caused by avidya (nescience) and other sources of evil, all creatures involuntarily come into being again and again and dissolve, the Lord says:

19. This same multitude of beings, having come into being again and again, is dissolved at the coming on of night, not of their will, O son of Pritha, and comes forth at the coming on of day.
This multitude of beings comprising those that move as well as those that do not - the same multitude that existed in the preceding kalpa or age, and no other - involuntarily comes into being at the coming on of day, and is dissolved again at the coming on of night, at the close of the day, Again, at the coming on of day, it involuntarily comes into existence.

The Highest Goal - how reached
In viii. 13, etc., has been shown the way, by which to reach the Imperishable (Akshara) described above. Now, with a view to indicate the nature of the Akshara, with a view thus to specify that so and so is the thing to be reached by this path of Yoga, the Lord proceeds as follows:

20. But that other eternal Unmanifested Being, distinct from this Unmanifested (Avyakta), - He does not perish when all creatures perish.
‘But’ indicates that the Akshara who is to be described now is distinct from the Vvyakta. Being: the Supreme, the Para - Brahman, called the Akshara. Though distinct from the Avyakta, one may suppose that He is of the same nature as the Avyakta.
To remove this impression, the Lord qualifies Him by ‘other', meaning thereby that He is of a different nature from the Avyakta. He is unmanifested, imperceptible to the senses. He is distinct from the Avyakta mentioned above, which is Avidya itself, the seed of the whole multitude of created beings; that is to say, He is of quite a different nature from the Avyakta. He does not perish when all beings from Brahma downwards perish.

21. What is called the Unmanifested and the Imperishable, That, they say, is the highest goal; which having reached none return. That is My highest place.
That that Avyakta which is called Akshara, the Imperishable, the Unmanifested Beings: Having reached that state, none has returned to samsara, the mundane life. That is My (i.e. Vishnu's) Supreme Abode. The means of attaining to that state will now be pointed out:

22. Now, that Highest Purusha, O son of Pritha, within Whom all beings dwell, by Whom all this is pervaded, is attainable by exclusive devotion.
 Purusha is so called because He rests in the body, or because He is full. Than Him none is higher. He is attained by exclusive devotion, i.e., by jnana or knowledge of the Self. All the created beings abide within the Purusha; for, every effect rests within its cause; and by that Purusha the whole world is pervaded.

The Paths of Light and Darkness
Now it is necessary to speak of the Uttaramarga, ‘the Northern Path', the Path of Light by which the Yogis just spoken of attain to Brahman, those Yogis who meditate here on Brahman as inhering in the Pranava, in the syllable 'Om', and who attain to moksha later on. And this will be taught in the section beginning with viii. 23. The path of return is also described, only with a view to extol the other path.

23. Now, in what time departing, Yogis go to return not, as also to return, that time will I tell thee, O chief of the Bharatas.
‘In what time ‘should be construed with 'departing.’ ‘To return’ means to be reborn - ‘Yogis’ stand for those who are engaged in meditation (i.e., those who are properly called Yogis) as well as for Karmins, i.e., those who are engaged in karma or action. The latter are spoken of as Yogis only by courtesy; and they are so spoken of in iii. 3. - I shall tell you, when dying the Yogis are not born again, and when dying they will be born again. He speaks of that time:

24. Fire, light, day - time, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern solstice, - then departing, men who know Brahman reach Brahman.
‘Fire’s the deity presiding over time; so also is 'light ‘a deity presiding over time. - Or, it may be that ‘fire’ and ‘light’ are the deities so called; the reference, however, to the path as a whole by the expressions ‘in what time’ and ‘that time’ being due to the predominance of the deities presiding over ‘time.’- The ‘day-time’ is the deity presiding over the day-time, the ‘bright fortnight’ is the deity presiding over the bright fortnight. The six months of the northern solstice: here also, it is the deity that forms the path. The principle on which this interpretation of the passage is based has been established elsewhere. Those who die, having been engaged in the contemplation of Brahman, reach Brahman by this path. The expression "in course of time" should be understood after 'reach'; for, those who are firm in devotion to right knowledge and attain to immediate liberation have no place to go to or to return from.

25. Smoke, night-time, and the dark fortnight, the six months of the southern solstice, - attaining by these to the lunar light, the Yogi returns.
 ‘Smoke,’ ‘night time’ the 'dark fortnight,’ and the 'six months of the southern solstice,’ are all deities presiding over smoke and periods of time spoken of. By this path, the Yogi - the Karmin who performs sacrifices (to Gods) and other works - attains to the lunar light, and, on the exhaustion thereof, returns again to earth.

26. These bright and dark Paths of the world are verily deemed eternal; by the one a man goes to return not, by the other he returns again.
The one is bright because it illumines knowledge; the other is dark because it is wanting in that light. The two paths are open to those only in the world who are engaged in action or devoted to knowledge; they are not open to the whole world. They are eternal because samsara is eternal. By the one: by the bright one.

27. Knowing these paths, O son of Pritha, no Yogi is deluded: wherefore at all times be steadfast in Yoga, O Arjuna.
The Yogi who knows that one of the two foregoing paths leads to samsara and that the other leads to moksha is no longer deluded.

Excellence of Yoga
Now, hear of the greatness of that Yoga:

28. Whatever fruit of merit is declared to accrue from the Vedas, sacrifices, austerities and gifts, - beyond all this goes the Yogi on knowing this; and he attains to the Supreme Primeval Abode.
Whatever fruit of merit is declared by the scriptures to be attainable when the Vedas are properly studied, when the sacrifices are performed in all their parts, when austerities are well practiced, - beyond all this multitude of fruits rises the Yogi who rightly understands and follows the teaching imparted (by the Lord) in His answers to the seven questions, and he then attains to the highest abode of Isvara - which existed even in the beginning; - He attains Brahman, the Cause.

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