In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 21 - 25. Shri Krishna explains exactly what You are.
Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong Available here on Amazon
If you would like to dwell deeper in the Bhagavad Gita, I recommend Swami Gambhirananda's translation with Adi Shankara ji's commentary: Available here on Amazon
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Hello and welcome to The Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to join and listen, or watch this podcast episode. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast and keep it ad free, you can sign up to my Patreon page and I will leave the details in the show notes and video description below. Now we shall begin with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita, starting off with verse 21. The true self is indestructible, timeless, and is neither born nor dies. So, then tell me Arjuna, how is that purusha going to be slain, and who is able to kill them? So, this is really a summary of what's already been established in verses 16 to 20. Please do take a look at the previous episode, it was one hour long and we went into each and every verse in great depth, do revisit that if you want to understand more about what's going to happen. But Krishna wants to make sure that the receptive Arjuna grasps the understanding that's required, because the one thing that we definitely need in spirituality is repetitive education, repetitive knowledge. Without this type of repetition, we're not able to advance further, or we're not able to fully understand something. For example, when you read something, are you just reading to understand it or you reading just to get to the next page? The same here, are you reading the verse to get to the next verse or are you taking your time to understand the message and understand the theory. This true self, the Atma or Brahman that we often refer to here as the ultimate reality, that is indestructible, that is timeless and that neither is born and neither does it die. Just a reminder that I'll be using Atman and Brahman interchangeably. If you ever hear me say Atman, I'm talking about Brahman. If after hearing this message, we still believe that we are bounded by time, or we can be destroyed or that we have taken birth or will one day die. We still believe we are this body and mind. That's how simple the understanding is. That if right now, despite Shri Krishna really going into the spiritual wisdom about how we are eternal, how the dehi, the inner dweller is eternal and that the deha, the body is nothing but subject to modification, subject to birth and death. If we still haven't accepted this, then what is left to understand? We need to start understanding this. When we start believing that with the body of mind, then we are always all going to be attracted and also harmed by its associations. For example, if we believed we're this body and mind, if there's an ache in the body, we're constantly going to feel that ache. If you believe we are the mind, we constantly going to be worried about things, anxious about things and even our happiness is fleeting. We have to understand that this message is about understanding that it is only the body and the mind that comes into existence and then departs from existence. But it is this Brahman, the Inner Dweller, that is continuously here, it is the Sat , remember the Ultimate Reality that does not change. This always exists. This being unborn and undying, it is eternal. Therefore it is the only thing that is true. We obviously still believe in the finite aspect of our existence. So then can we claim to be knowers of the truth? Can we claim to know the true self can we claim to know the art mama? Can we claim to know Brahman can we claim to know what we perceive to be god? Can we say that we are true knowers of This? I don't think we can, if we still believe we're this body and mind and this is what Sri Krishna is telling Arjuna that, tell me, how is that Purusha going to be slain, how is that Inner Dweller going to be slain? Then we have a question that's raised by Shri Krishna that if the Atman is indestructable and timeless, then how is that very being, going to be slain and who is able to kill them? Well, who can kill the elders, the mentors, the gurus that are in front of him, his brothers that are in front of him. Who can kill them? If this Purusha doesn't die? Shri Krishna goes on to say that basically how can one try to destroy something that is indestructible and timeless? Very clear here by Shri Krishna, he's just reemphasizing the point and trying to get Arjuna to get out of his moment of sorrow and delusion. Also to note here that mentions that the act of killing has been cited as an example, the larger context to be understood is that it is in regards to all forms of action itself. Even though in the context of this, it's talking about killing and being slain, but the real purpose is to understand that action that we are not the doers of action. The larger question is, does a person of realization commit any action? That's what we want to understand and Adi Sankara ji further states that once a person is realized, they no longer need to perform ritualistic actions because they become free from it. He specifically says they no longer identify as a doer anymore. So who will reap the benefits of such activities and who will reap the detriment of such activities? Who is the person that's going to gain anything? If you believe that you are the dehi, the Inner Dweller, how is that going to benefit from the ritualistic actions you do? How is that going to benefit from the deeds that you do? How is that going to be affected or at the detriment of deeds that cause harm to others. The dehi, the inner dweller is not affected. What is affected is the transactional reality, that type of reality you do have to face. Shri Krishna is saying that the body and the mind is the one that does things it's not necessarily the dehi, the inner dweller, your true self. So therefore do not believe that the Atma is going to be subjected to the deeds that you do. It will remain unaffected. Its only purpose is that you should realize it. That's the only purpose of the Atma. If anyone still believes that they are the do of action and they are duties to be performed, as mentioned in verse 19, they are not enlightened beings. They are still deluded. They are still under the false understanding of what the true self is. Actually they haven't realized the Self very simply. They haven't realized this Brahman. This Brahman that is their reality. It is who they are. No one can deny this is what Shri Krishna is trying to point out too. If we still see people who say, I have to do this action, I have to do this ritual because I need to gain this. They are still deluded. They still do not understand that it is understanding this Brahman, which is more important. Which should be the task one should always go towards. Adi Sankara ji makes it clear that an enlightened being who fully understands that they are this imperishable Atman, this imperishable Brahman, if they understand this and they are the seeker of liberation, they are qualified for renunciation of all rights and duties, according to the Vedas. What's interesting is that if one has realized Brahman and one is now liberated, how are they going to do the rites and rituals that are needed to be done before? Before the rights from rituals were done so you could gain punya, actions which reaped benefits, that advanced you spiritually. Now once you know everything, once you know that One and that you are this One, how are you going to perform those rites and rituals? Because you know that it is only the body and the mind that is committing to those rituals. It's the senses. The mouth is chanting the mantras, the hands is moving the thali, the mind is remembering the mantras. It's all thought. Therefore there's no need for a liberated being to do those things, they can renounce those. And in fact, it may even appear that they still conduct those rites and rituals, they may still conduct havans and may still conduct pujas and worship, but they understand what they are worshiping. That's the difference also. So when they renounce, it's not about being perfect in your rites and rituals, they know that the real purpose of this is that they are worshiping really themselves. That's what it is. They are the self. They are not affected. Brahman is not affected by our rites and rituals. Brahman is changeless. If Brahman changed its opinion, then it cannot be Brahman. Then it's subject to change. Therefore, Brahman would be asat but because Brahman is Sat it is not influenced by our worldly actions. We have to grasp this understanding. I know I'm repeating some things, but it really is difficult to understand and comprehend. I myself have had to go through so much work to understand this and right now, while I'm going through the Bhagavad Gita, I'm learning so many new things. I'm getting new insights that I never got before, because when we've spent time on something, when we don't do things for leisure or to get ourselves away from being bored, then it requires us to focus and with focus comes great understanding, especially when it comes to spirituality. Like Arjuna, we have to make sure we understand this wisdom, as it is said in the Upanishads that 'It is to be realized to the mind alone.' The mind is purified by the knowledge of Berman in the scriptures and the Master, with self restraint of one senses, one can be ready to realize Brahman. So everything does come through the mind. It is a mind that begins to understand that it is Brahman. This is what Adi Sankara ji is saying that one cannot think that one can escape the mind. No, the mind is required. Without the mind, we do not come across thought. Without thought, we can not come across insight. Without insight, we cannot know Brahman. It is that insight created by thought, caused by thought that we'd get to know Brahman. That we get to know the formless. This is an important thing to know. Yes, you use the mind, but you then have to drop the mind because at the end, when you understand everything, when you understand that you're Brahman, then you can just allow the mind to function as it needs to function. There's no need to feel obligated to do anything. There's no obligation. One does need to restrain one senses, and this is very important and I will continue on why. If one is still hankering for desires, hunkering for food, smells food and then loses all sensibilities and all restraint, then they are simply too full to think of Brahman. If one is attracted by the smell of nice food, sometimes if I smell a dessert being made, a cake being made and I lose all of my senses because the mind acknowledges that now this body is going to eat this food. The body starts feeling great, I see the food, I'm going to eat that food. If we're too full, how are we going to be spending time with Brahman? We'll be thinking about drinking some Peptac or any thing that can get rid of acid reflux or gas has been built up because of overeating because our desires haven't stopped. Our hunger for food has not stopped. We've not been able to restrain ourselves and say, you know what? I need to control my body. I need to control what I eat, because if I'm unhealthy, then I cannot sit and think about Brahman. One has to always keep one's body fit and healthy. We have to keep our body and our senses in restraint. It's very important that we do that. It's a practice. It's not going to happen overnight. It doesn't mean that you don't eat food. You eat just enough so your body can continue. Yes, sometimes we eat the food that we enjoy eating, eat them, but don't get carried away with the enjoyment. Don't get to the point where you start dreaming about that food tomorrow. Oh, that food yesterday was so great, I can't wait to have it again. Guess what's happened. The mind has wandered away. The mind is now completely at the helm of the body and the senses. Therefore the saints and the sages of the past and of the present guide us to really focus on restraining our senses and by doing that, we're able to focus more time on realizing Brahman. Sometimes we say, God wanted this to happen. God wanted, no, those are wrong beliefs. They may help in the beginning, but eventually you have to discard those beliefs because they don't mean anything. Brahman does not do anything. If Brahman did, then it wouldn't be Changeless. That means Brahman changes. If you pray to God and you pray to Brahman, and you say Brahman get rid of my problems and Brahman gets rid of your problems. Then that means Brahman is subject to change by what you are wishing. But really Brahman within us does not wish upon anything. We have to always discern that the body and mind is wishing something, not Brahman. When I'm praying to Brahman to get something, I'm actually just praying to myself and it's my body and mind, that's going to create the action. Not Brahman Adi Sankara ji gets even more direct: only someone who believes they are different to himself will go and say, do this act, go and kill someone. They believe there is a difference, but here Krishna is not physically talking to Krishna or to Arjuna, it is the same Atman, the same Purusha, although seemingly one is speaking and the other is listening. Krishna and Arjuna in Krishna's understanding are one and the same. It is the same Brahman. Arjuna doesn't know this, but Krishna knows. It's the same Atma the same atma that spoke in Krishna back then is the same Atma within me, within you. That is either speaking or listening to this. It's not changed. The Atman has remained. Verse 22. Just as the nara human being throws away old garments that are tattered and worn,so the immortal dehi leaves one material body and simply moves on to another. This is a very popular verse in the Gita and can be interpreted in many ways. You hear people talk about this constantly. Firstly one was fundamentally believe in reincarnation to entertain this idea in this verse specifically. It's very obvious that once the body ages it has to let go of itself, it cannot function any further, our mind may start withering away, we're not as fast anymore. And today, if you want to compare things, people just throw out clothes because they're out of fashion or just by wanting more clothes. I tend to ask this question that if you always going out buying things, how do you ever find time for realization or spirituality. If you constantly having to buy a new top because it's out of fashion this week, it takes time to look for something, then you have to purchase it, then you're going to wear it. And in fact, before that you've been,thinking about where to wear it and which event you're going to go and wear it. At the end of the day, how can we find time for realization. Likewise, we have to understand that desires are with the body and in the end, this body's going to be thrown into the fire or thrown into the ground. Nobody values the body once it is lifeless and especially post funeral. All one becomes is symbols in a gravestone or etched in memories of our loved ones that's all that remains. Therefore, we need to understand what is this material body? It is simply energy and this energy will always be transformed. It will always take some other form and another way to think of this,, clothes example is clothes may be new, only worn once and thrown out. We can see this in this example that some people die young, seemingly healthy and they die with a cardiac arrest. So many footballers fit and healthy, we hear about them just dying of a cardiac arrest. It happens or something tragic happens to a baby. We hear about cot deaths that happen. Or children get cancer. How does Krishna married this up with this verse that once clothes get worn out, normally when clothes are tattered and they're ripped, we throw them out. If you think deeply about it, we then have to accept the concept of the Jiva, that simply the current body was unfit to carry out the karma that is remaining. Somewhere, there is still some form of action that is remaining and that this body was not fit for the rest of the journey. So it has to find it another body to become fit again to complete the karma that needs to be completed. Or you could turn around and say that the body became unfit now for realization, therefore it has to go to a new body. This is quite harsh in a way I think when we say things like this, because we have to really divorce the idea that it is the body that goes and it is the mind that goes. That basically that what remains is the eternal self. Yeah. We can embrace that, but to embrace the idea that this body and mind is not going to remain is quite tough for us, but the Jiva that does carry on. In a way, your mind, your memories and all those things, your conditioning, your thoughts that you've had, all those do remain and they still continue on through the Jiva. When the Jiva understands its true self, then the Jiva understands that actually all these conditionings are not me. The Jiva is what changes everything. You could see the Jiva as a cosmic mind or the unmanifest mind. The mind that you currently have is the manifest mind and that is the one that will understand what is Brahman and therefore have realization. By understanding that some people go young, we may understand that basically the body just not fit to carry out the desires that that Jiva has remaining and the karma that is accumulated in that Jiva. What is new and what is old is always perspective. For example, someone wears a Louis Vuitton scarf for five years and finds that now it's old. There's no need to wear it anymore, and they give it to charity, they give it to the Goodwill store or salvation army. But someone who will go into that store, into that charity shop or into the Goodwill store or the salvation army store, they will see that same scarf and see it as new, they got a new scarf. So when they go to their family and friends, they will say, oh, look at the new scarf I've got. They're not going to say, oh yeah, I picked it up at the Goodwill store. They gonna say, look at this brand new Louis Vuitton scarf. What is new and what is old is always according to our perspective. It's very subjective in that way. Remember the body decays or it is burned into ashes, that is the nature of the body. It is subject to be destroyed. But the atma is not the body because it is neither born nor does it die. The atma can not be destroyed, Brahman cannot be destroyed in any way, it's just not possible. Another way to see is that the eternal self is infused in all forms that appear and disappear. Therefore it never truly leaves when the forms disappear and doesn't arrive, when these forms appear. It simply remains as Is-ness. It pervades everywhere, but doesn't necessarily get influenced by what forms are in front of us and what forms disappear. It just remains the immortal dehi, that immortal self, that immortal Brahman, there is no death at all for that. And for the deha the body, there is no survival, even for the fittest. Let's understand this the immortal dehi, there is no death at all. And for the deha, the body, there is no survival, even for the fittest. Now we get to verse 23. That indestructible being cannot be cut by weapons or burned by fire. Water cannot make it wet, and the wind cannot cause it to wither. What we need to understand is that this indestructible being this being that is partless yeah and formless, how can it be cut with a sword? Being partless and formless, how can it be reduced to ashes with fire. Being indestructable and formless, how can it be eroded away with water? Being formless and without elements, even air cannot wither it or dry it, or dehydrate it as it is not made from any substance. We must remember with this verse and as mentioned in the last podcast, the self cannot negate itself. You can negate these four elements here, but you cannot negate Brahman. Brahman remains apart from that negation. Whenever you negate, you end up going to Brahman. So for something to be real, to be true, like Brahman it has to be beyond negation. That's how you see it and if you think about it, can awareness itself, the awareness within you can it negate itself? Try, it's impossible try and negate awareness because what remains? Awareness. Consciousness. As it is the self, the atma that objectifies everything else. It cannot be objectified itself. Brahman can see everything else as objects. It can perceive others as objects, but it itself can not be an object. It can be aware of objects, but it cannot be any object. The Atma or Brahman is a subject of every object. It is consciousness itself. So we have to understand that it's through consciousness, through Brahman, that objects are there. So to understand this further, remember the Atma never burns. Brahman never burns, only the body. Brahman cannot drown, only the body. Brahman can never become dehydrated. Only the body. The five elements are used here in the way, with the sword being the objects of the earth followed by the obvious fire, water and air and akash or space isn't mentioned here. But remember, the body is contained within that space and space is not entirely empty, but actually contains atoms. There is form there, whilst theAtma or Brahman is formless. Even though we need to consider that atoms also have an aspect of form, even though we're looking at space really there's something there. A simple example to use is the reflection of yourself in the mirror. The reflection doesn't have any separate existence. It cannot come out of the mirror and harm you. If you think so then it's all in your mind. So the reflection is asat, while you are Sat, real. Likewise, these elements are asat and Brahman is real. Let us understand this more that if you suddenly came out of the mirror, your reflection, it will be scary, but also it's all in your mind. You know the reflection is not you. You know this, if your reflection started doing something you weren't doing, it will be freaky. But you know that the reflection is completely doing what you want it to do because you're doing it. Likewise, we need to understand that this Brahman is real and that everything else is a reflection of that Brahman. That's all. It seemingly has forms, but really it's that undying awareness with you. Then verse 24. This Sanatana 'Immortal' being cannot be cut into parts, destroyed by fire drowned by water or dried by wind. It is nitya 'everlasting', subtler the matter, always standing and exists forever. Again, there's a bit of repetition but it is to make us understand that you have to separate what is Sat and what is Asat. So the Sanatana, the Immortal, the eternal, this Brahman, cannot be cut into any parts because it is formless. It is partless. What is formless? How can you cut it? If something has no form at all, how can it be cut? It cannot be destroyed by fire because it has no form to be reduced to ashes. It cannot be drowned by water, nor dried by the wind, summarizing and yet bringing firm conviction into making us understand the Purusha, the Self -Brahman. This is what this is doing, solidifying our understanding. So we do not enter delusion again. Right now, we may get it. We may understand it. We may know that it's obvious that we are Brahman, but when you're in a challenging situation, will you still remember this? That is what we need to understand. Yes. You may respond to an event that is challenging, but you will always have in the back of your mind, that I'm not the doer. Brahman never does, I'm just watching action happen. Adi Sankara Ji actually warns us by informing us that Shri Krishna uses similar phrases because the intention is to ensure that the yet not realized person begins to manifest understanding and comprehension of the immortal Self. That this immortal being cannot be reincarnated, nor does it go through samsara. It is the complete end of the cycle of births and deaths. Therefore, there is no real repetition going on. Here we can understand that there's no repetition in terms of the knowledge it's to just reinforce what we need to understand. We may have a question when it comes to Brahman that, well, if it's partless, can it be zero or empty, Shunya or the void? Actually, no, it can't be because it is self existent and self evident, with it being self evident. That means that it can't be shunya, it can't be completely empty. We know that what seemingly is empty can actually be dissected further. We see space. We cannot see atoms, but through microscope you could see atoms and with the aid of the microscope, you may be able to cut that atom and dissect it further. But with Brahman that is not possible because Brahman is self evident upon itself. You are the evidence of Brahman. It's obvious there is Brahman. So therefore it cannot be empty. It can seem like it's empty, but it's not. It just simply doesn't have a form and because of this, it cannot be cut, nor burned, nor dried, nor drowned. What's used here is the word 'nitya,' which means everlasting timeless and this implies that it is beyond time. Therefore must be beyond space and also space or akash is in regards to the world, the universe that we see. Anything empty, we call it space. It seems everlasting. So when you look into the night sky, you think that is everlasting, there's no end to it but actually it does have an end. Brahman is consciousness and consciousness does contain space, we need to understand that consciousness can operate in space. The atma, this Brahman exists forever and its reach is beyond comprehension. This is what happens because of it being everlasting and timeless. We struggle to comprehend it. We struggle to comprehend how consciousness can still operate in space, but space can never become consciousness. Therefore it leads to Krishna's second sentence that it is everlasting subtler than matter, always standing as in stable and exists forever. Or alternatively, pervading everywhere. This Brahman because it is pervading everywhere, it is stable and cannot move. You can't move Brahman because he pervades everywhere. With the word sanatana one establishes the fact that it isn't brought into being by cause or by an effect of something. Nor by any force of nature, nor element of nature, it is beyond all that. It's beyond ancient, timeless and by stating it is subtler than matter, it's confirming that the atma is consciousness. This is seen for ourselves when we turn our mind inwards. Again, by negating what we see and perceive, we're able to go into that process, when we negate everything, and eventually what will remain is our awareness, our consciousness. Once we understand this, and we continue to turn our mind inwards, the stronger the understanding will be. Once we understand this self, then we understand very simply that Arjuna does not need to be in sorrow because the Self is permanent. The Self is eternal. This Brahman is eternal, it's everlasting, and it is the true self. It is the true being in everyone. For himself, for the people on this side and for the people that he will battle with and kill eventually they are all this Brahman, therefore being subtler than matter, because it is beyond our comprehension, of seeing, of perception. It is beyond change itself and while matter is subject to change, just like the body he perceives. The bodies will come and go. They will change. They will change its form when they die. But the thing is this Brahman is beyond that change, it's subtler than matter. In fact, sometimes they say subtler than the subtle. It is beyond our comprehension. Therefore, yes, we use the mind, but it is then awareness, that brings us to that understanding. Then verse 25. That undying individual is invisible, inconceivable, and unchangeable. Therefore, you should not despair at the passing-away of the bodily form. Again, reminding us of this formless being and that we are Brahman. We are told here that it is un-manifest and invisible. The senses cannot perceive it. Therefore it cannot be turned into an object. If our senses can't pick it up, it just cannot be objectified. Simply our mind cannot do anything with it. Our mind cannot do anything with awareness actually, because the mind is an object of awareness. This formless being is inconceivable. It is beyond the senses and it cannot be the object of inference. It cannot be the object of inference because this formless self cannot be objectified. It is self-evident when we truly experienced our true self and this atma is completely unchangeable. It is not like milk that can be churned into butter. It cannot be modified in any way. We have to understand that it's not like food that can go from raw to being cooked. It is not like that either. Therefore, this atma doesn't go through emotions of happiness or grief. It is forever changeless. How can something Nirguna 'attribute-less' go through any change. Only some thing with attributes can change. We've established this in the previous episode, therefore it's impossible that Nirguna Brahman can change at all. Therefore by establishing this Truth to us, Krishna rightfully directs Arjuna to understand that there is no need to feel despair. There's no need for him to feel sorrow. There's no need for him to be disturbed because he has to understand that he is not killing anyone. He is the atman, the self and the self is not the doer. Berman is not the doer. Brahman is within the other people too. With this knowledge, with this wisdom, he should be able to understand that those are not bodies that I'm going to be killing. It is only seemingly the bodies that they have, but really they are the eternal Brahman. Brahman cannot die. Brahman cannot be killed by the sword. This is to reemphasize to Arjuna to understand that he is Brahman not the body, and therefore the body will kill another body in this war. But Brahman cannot kill Brahman, simple as that. The self is beyond birth and death. Therefore Arjuna should not feel the loss of those he respects and honors, as it is only their material form that is facing a demise. He has to understand this. That it's only atoms that are just going to be transformed or transferred. They won't truly die. The body will continue in another form or way, in another form or in another, rupa but the people that he respects and honors and loves, they will always be because they are this Brahman, the same Brahman that he is. So by the knowledge of knowing what is Sat - 'real' and by knowing what is asat - ' unreal', Arjuna knows that only the material is the doer, but his true self that is indestructable, inconceivable, timeless, changeless, unmanifest, eternal, stable, stillness, formless and partless is never the doer. Nor does it cause anything to occur, therefore, grieving for matter is silly. As the body will only have a new form, it will always have a form, no matter what happens. This ends this episode and we just went through verses 21 to verses 25. Thank you very much for listening. Remember, a new episode is uploaded every Sunday and do follow my social media channels specifically TikTok because the videos I do there are sometimes not of this podcast and the account details are in the videos description and show notes below. Please do rate and review this podcast on apple podcasts and also on overcast. I will greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much for listening. Take care. Stay safe. Bye.