In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 44 - 46. Shri Krishna discusses how to live with the pleasures of what nature has provided in terms of the body and how can we transcend to the pleasures of Brahman. Also this episode breaks down what a Brahmin really is.
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 joining today and for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this podcast. We're continuing on with our thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita, and we've now entered the 11th episode. Today we will be discussing chapter two verses 44 to verses 46. Verse 44. For those attached to enjoying material pleasures, their immortal potential is distorted and stolen away. As a result, they do not have the discernment to see their atma or taste the greater pleasures of the highest states of transcendental samadhi. There's a lot to unpack with this verse. As we know, material pleasures belong to the body and to the mind and pleasure and power keeps us focus on those very basic carnal desires. They don't allow us to progress further in this spiritual journey. Here it is said that the immortal potential is stolen away, it is distorted. It's not destroyed. It's just distorted. So we have to also remember the key nuances in the language. Even though it cannot be destroyed, it also implies that moksha or liberation no longer is desired by that person. And may even be considered by that person to be impossible. For example, you will see many people, if you ask them about moksha or mukti, liberation, they will talk about it as if it will happen in some future life. They will always turn around and say, this is not the life that I'm going to attain mukti, they will turn around and say, I have to live more lives. Where have they got this belief from? They don't even know where it's originated from. Mukti has to be done in the very present life that you're in. Nobody knows whether you live seven lives or 10 lives or 13 or 50, nobody knows, but all you do know for a matter of fact, is that you're alive right now. And Moksha or Mukti can be explored in this lifetime itself. Those that believe that they are this body and this mind and they have to go through this continuous cycle, they will always feel that mukti is not for them. It's a path that is not available to them. When viveka disappears, discernment disappears, then we no longer view things as the Atman and our desires are just for power and pleasure. We forget what is real. We forget what is Sat. Once that happens, we no longer associate with the Atman when we only want power and pleasure. And what Shri Krishna is talking about, if you remember from the previous episode, it was talking about the flowery language of the Vedas. So mainly talking about the karma-kanda aspect, the rituals. What tends to happen is as we are people who would like a better life, we think life can only be better if we have more things or if we have more happiness or if we are more powerful then people will listen to us. What Krishna really wants us to know is that our immortal potential, which is to attain Moksha that is distorted and stolen away from us because we believe that this body will go through cycles again and again. Obviously viveka disappears when we no longer view things as the Atman and even deeper than that is we go away from meditation. We move away from entering that state of samadhi and here Krishna talks about transcendental samadhi. What are we transcending? We are transcending this body of mind, our conditionings, our thoughts, our emotions. So how do we do this? We do this by focusing on Brahman, the Atman. This is the transcendence. In the previous episodes of the thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita, we've been discovering how we can associate ourselves to the true self, to the Atman. Krishna has guided Arjuna the same way. He has shown Arjuna his infinite potential. In fact, it's not even the potential. It is what he is, but right now, because one is still attached to the body and the mind, and think that is the whole of existence. We think we have to associate with it, but really the atman is what it is. Therefore, the more we focus on Brahman, the more we align ourselves to the understanding of what we truly are, the more we rest in that meditation, the closer we get to that samadhi state. We'll go into what Adi Shankara ji says about samadhi in a while. If we really truly want to meditate, then we must transcend our body and mind and enter our true self, this Atman, this Brahman, that is the key. Our spirituality should not be about committing to rituals for the hope of a better life in terms of power and pleasure, this spirituality is of a lowest sort. This is why law of attraction is so popular. It keeps you focused on whatever your body and mind desires and sprinkles the idea that the universe is one. So by giving you this idea, it gives you a connection to the universe, something larger than yourself, but can it take you to Brahman? This is the main question. And I would say my personal opinion is that no, it cannot take you to Brahman because the law of attraction will only keep you to what the world wants you to attract. Are you attracted to liberation? Are you attracted to jivan-mukti, towards liberation whilst you're alive? Are you attracted to understanding that you are Brahman? The law of attraction isn't used for that purpose. So actually the law of attraction is a distortion. It distorts our reality. It distorts who we really are. It takes us away from who we really are. Even if our devotion is just based on the enjoyments of the world. Trying to please the devis and devtas, trying to please our guru, then we will not transcend the cycle of birth and death. This is a very harsh truth, which we have to accept. We can't escape that. This leads to the next point that I really want to make is that if anyone has heard about Brahman, it is imperative for them to understand the real knowledge of the Vedas and let go of any practice or ritual that takes them away from the true self. This needs to be really understood. I'm not saying that rituals are bad. I'm not saying that tradition is bad. Those things have a purpose and it's not bad to do those. Having a routine is good, but is that routine taking you to understanding that your Brahman? Is it allowing you to accept 'Aham Brahmasmi' - I am Brahman. If not, then, is it worth keeping? When you attend a satsang, when you listen to a talk on YouTube, when you listen to a podcast, when you listen to a spiritual guru talk, are they taking you to Brahman? Are they connecting you to Brahman? Not just by their words, but by their being? This is what we need to understand. A Guru has to use your intellect to get you to Brahman. The mind has to be used. It is the mind that goes through samadhi and Adi Shankara ji will talk about this. The Atman doesn't go through samadhi. The Atman is samadhi. If anyone has really heard about Brahman? Like in these podcasts episodes we've been talking about what Brahman is. Therefore I find it is imperative for each and every one of us to understand the real knowledge of the Vedas, which is mainly Vedanta and let go of those practices that take us away from the True Self. Let's be honest, even priests or pandits, they can pretend to have power. They are the people in between you and the devis and devtas, between you and the universe, between you and God. And especially in the Dharma, in Sanatana Dharma, because we do not know Sanskrit, we then go to a pandit, who knows Sanskrit. And we may not be actually understanding the message because they will be giving their biased understanding. Therefore they have an advantage in many ways, they have that power over you and in some way, rightfully so, but not to take advantage of you. So people who go to these pandits, who talk about pleasing the devis and devtas, pleasing the gods, pleasing Indra devta, pleasing Surya devta, all of these things, they know that you do not have the viveka to understand what is Vedanta. They know you're not interested in the Upanishads, in a way they know that you're not interested in knowing about your true self. You just want your life to be better. You don't have enough money, so they give you a ritual so you can learn how to get more money or be blessed in money. You want more education and pass your exams. It will give you a ritual to that. You want a child, it will give you a ritual for that. But the real knowledge of the Vedas is the Upanishads, of who you really are. All the other things I just mentioned are distractions. That is the flowery language and it's not that it's wrong. No, it's correct. And I'll tell you why it's correct. Even for those that just look at the karma-kanda, the rituals, that's all they're interested in, but atleast they're doing something of spirituality, even if it is the lower kind, that should still be appreciated. But let's for example, talk about those that have at least come across the idea of Brahman. The idea of Atman Bodha, of self-realization. Say they have come across a guru that talks about this, and there are gurus that talk about this. What happens is, if you say you do not know Sanskrit, therefore you will not learn the scriptures because you do not know, but thankfully we have translations and if you use the translations along with practicing Brahm-Gyana, Brahm-Vidya, the Knowledge of Brahman, then you will be able to learn much more than just listening to someone tell you what the Sanskrit says. Practice is much more powerful when used with the knowledge that you get, even if it's translated. That's why I always emphasize that one should use translations when possible. That's better than nothing. Then yes, it is important that you go to someone that has knowledge of Brahman to learn what the scriptures really mean and they're able to discern what is the karma-kanda and which is of the Gyana, the wisdom. Say one is just only interested in the karma-kanda, the rituals. They will not have the viveka to understand that there is Vedanta, that there is the Upanishads. They may even listen and read the Gita, but they select things that do not challenge their beliefs or their desires. They don't introspect and neither do the priests want them to. Some priests and some pundits, they do not want people to think more because it's supporting their lifestyle, the pundits lifestyle. In a way, it's a relationship, which both depend on each other. The pundit fears that they will not be fed if the people, if these families do not do these rituals. The people that want to do the rituals, they fear that they will face the wrath of some God. All done in fear. When you learn Vedanta, you learn about love and love is much stronger than fear. Where there is love, there is no fear. Love is the basic language of the Atman, of Brahman, love is the basic language. It's not the language that is complicated to understand. Love is the easiest language to understand. Hatred and fear is a much more difficult language. You have to learn these things. But with love you do not learn love. You cannot learn love. Love is what you automatically are able to speak, once one attains that state of Brahman. The people who know the Vedas, what I mean by this, even the Vedanta aspect, yeah the end of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the knowledge, the wisdom. If they still seek power and pleasure and teach this to others to remain relevant, then their viveka isn't strong. So like I mentioned, the pundits that perpetuate this fear because they fear not being fed, their viveka is not strong. Yes, they may be able to recite the Vedas from start to finish. You ask them which verse, of which Vedas you want them to know. They'll be able to tell you, but that doesn't mean that they have the wisdom, their discernment of what is real is literally covered and this leads to confusion on what the meaning of life is, which is Moksha. Remember, a Pandit that does not emphasize on Moksha, a priest or a teacher, a guru that does not emphasize on Moksha, liberation from the body and mind whilst you're alive, they probably do not know how to do it. They probably do not know it exists. They don't want to put you on that path because they are not ready. They think you're not ready and they are pandits. They are learned people and they are not ready for moksha, so why would you a mere householder, who does not know Sanskrit? This is the power that Krishna is talking about, the political power. The meaning of life is simply Moksha, mukti, liberation. This is what we need to try to discover in our life. To strengthen our meditation, we need to strengthen our viveka, and we have established this in previous episodes that our viveka is strengthened, once it knows what is Sat, what is real and what is Asat, unreal. In this wisdom, it knows Brahman and meditates on Brahman. This mind steadies itself and calms down, and we can find that it transcends and that person becomes Jivan-Mukt, liberated whilst living. Adi Shankara ji explains that samadhi is that everything in the world reaches your mind alone. The sense objects you experience the entire world that is in front of you, is experienced by you. The eyes may be open and seeing, but what they see has to reach the mind before any seeing actually takes place. So samadhi is in the mind. Again, what needs to take place in the mind is the knowledge of Brahman. The real, the Atman. This then is what samadhi is. Even before your mind acknowledges what it sees as an object, it sees Brahman before that, then it sees the naam and rupa, the name and form. This is the key. See Brahman, then the name and form, then back to Brahman and we can attain this avastha, this state of being by meditating. Meditating is necessary as much as it is important to listen to these thoughts. But after listening to these thoughts, meditate upon this wisdom, spend time. The more you meditate, the better. Now verse 45. The vedic rituals are mostly concerned with the three gunas and with managing our relationship with matter to achieve temporary material comfort. O Arjuna, redirect your desires from this acquisitive hunger for superficial pleasure. Instead, free yourself from duality, be true to your atma, and live in the world as an immortal being. First of all, let me explain what the three Gunas are, Traigunya means the collection of the three qualities. Namely sattva which is purity, rajas which is energy and tamas, which is darkness or inertia. Sattva will give you some happiness. Rajas will give you agitation and tamas will give you dullness and sorrow. They will keep you engaged with sukha and dukha, comfort and sorrow. The world is made of these three qualities and here Krishna is focusing solely on the Vedas that deals with the karma-kanda, the rituals. What he's saying is that these three qualities, the rituals only deals with that. It doesn't deal with the deeper truths. The Vedas also does contain the Upanishads, but most will not be interested in the Upanishads. They will consider it as high philosophy. They will feel defeated even before trying to attempt to understand. The fact is to understand wisdom, you do not need to be literate. Wisdom has nothing to do with your literacy or illiteracy. Even a mute person, someone who cannot speak can understand, someone who is deaf can understand, and someone who's blind can still understand wisdom of the Upanishads. Because it transcends the body. It transcends the mind. It transcends a sense objects. Krishna tells Arjuna to redirect his desires. He's not to focus on the worldly pleasures as they are superficial. We do not attain the world. We are the world and we want to be free from it. The world is considered as the ocean and the guru, the Gyana, the wisdom of Brahman is the boat that stops us from drowning in this ocean of worldly pleasures. It picks us up and places us in the boat, and we're able to sail across this ocean without being affected by it. This is the way we need to live in this world. This is the instruction given by Krishna. As Krishna continues to instruct that we need to free ourselves from duality and be true to the Atman and live in the world as an immortal being. It's very clear what the expectation is for us. Krishna doesn't want Arjuna to be interested in pleasure and power, but wants him to go towards a transcendental samadhi. He is to be free from the pair of opposites, and the three qualities take us to the pair of opposites. We need to be free from pain and pleasure, cold and heat, victory and defeat. The reason for this is because even if there is happiness in one thing, sadness either follows, or it is hidden within that one happiness. So if there is happiness in one thing, we have to understand that either sadness will follow or sadness is hidden within that happiness. If we are to have worldly, happiness. Adi Shankara ji guides us to become established in the quality of sattva as much as possible, of purity. And that person is niryoga-ksema. That means always without the desire for protection and acquisition for more wealth. Yoga means acquisition of what one has and ksema means the protection of what one has. So when we say niryoga-ksema, it means that that person is beyond the acquisition of what one has and then is not bothered with the protection of what one has. That person who is yoga-ksema is constantly thinking of acquiring more and looking for the protection of what they have of what they possess. Therefore it would be very difficult for them to seek liberation. This is very important to understand because anyone that thinks of acquiring more and then protecting what they've acquired. They're never going to be thinking about mukti, they're never going to be thinking about liberation. It's going to be a far away thing for them because they've got to protect what they have. What Krishna is guiding Arjuna is to be niryoga-ksema, to be beyond acquiring more and protecting what one has acquired. One needs to be beyond those things. The mind that wants to go for liberation will be one that is able to be beyond these worldly matters like acquisition, power, and pleasure. They live a balanced life. Hence, ready for liberation and Krishna gives Arjuna the blessing to be free from yoga and ksema - acquisition and protection of what one has. The guidance from Krishna to Arjuna is to be true to himself, to master his own self, which is this Atman, this immortal being, and this is the message that Krishna is also giving to us that we need to be true to ourselves and we need to master our self and that is the atman. Atman here as Adi Shankara ji tells us does not necessarily just mean that which we already are, as we understand. We can only be Sat, what is real. Here Krishna is saying that be true to your body and your mind and your senses. You have these things, but remember that they must not control you. You are the master. They are here to serve you. May your body support you in sitting for meditation, for studying the scriptures, for serving those that are oppressed, or are in poverty. May your mind serve you by being in stillness and being steady so that you can meditate on Brahman and learn and concentrate on the scriptures. May your senses serve you by reminding you that only Brahman is, and therefore you never get carried away by the pleasures of the senses. This is what is meant by the Atman here. The mind that is constantly associating itself to Brahman. We need to alert ourselves to be one with the immortal being that we are, we need to continuously alert ourselves. Remember Krishna is not guiding Arjuna to not live in the world or not to engage with the world. He's doing the exact opposite. He's teaching Arjuna that you must be in the world, do your duty, but remember what you are, transcend the dualities of the world, ascend to the non dual self that is Brahman. This Brahman contains the world, your Atman contains the world, the world does not contain your Atman. The world does not contain Brahman. Brahman contains the world. Brahman contains the universe. Just to note here that the three Gunas that was mentioned. Arjuna has been learning about this knowledge in the Vedas and now Krishna is telling him to learn Vedanta, the philosophy and to start studying it, so the mind can turn inwards to the immortal being that It already is. Everyone that follows dharma has to follow this eventually, whether in this life or the next life. No matter what we all have to get to this point where we need to associate ourselves to Brahman, remember that we are Brahman and rest in that being. Krishna has guided Arjuna in that way and we need to learn this as well. Verse 46. Just as there is no need to dig a well when fresh water is flowing everywhere, so one who knows the pleasures of Brahman 'the transcendental realm beyond matter from where we come' does not need to seek material pleasure separately through means of the Vedic rituals. Someone that is in the state of Brahman still receives pleasure but it's different and we'll go into what that is. That person does not need to seek material pleasure separately through Vedic rituals. The material pleasures are contained in the pleasures of Brahman too. This is the biggest secret that nobody tells you. People attract you to the law of attraction. That's not good enough. The real deal is the pleasures of Brahman and they contain the material pleasures, if you really want them. If you do not want them and they don't interest you, you're not going to care about it. The imagery here is very clear that there is no need to dig a well or make a reservoir, when there is fresh water flowing all around you, it's everywhere. It'd be really silly to do so. As you're surrounded by flowing water that is fresh, crisp, and fulfilling. Likewise, that person who knows Brahman, who knows The Self that transcendental realm beyond matter from where we come does not need to seek material pleasures through Vedic rituals. They can move beyond the worldliness. Let's understand this example a bit more. Brahman is the water flowing everywhere. Guess what, this reservoir, this well is? It's also the water that is everywhere. It is not separate. We think material pleasures are separate. We think it is different, but it's the same as the ananda that comes from Brahman. Bliss is the true pleasure of Brahman. Material pleasures, they cannot achieve the state of ananda, but ananda is within those. Only the one that understands Brahman understands this. So let's understand this more. Rituals is like the reservoir, whilst Brahm Gyana, the knowledge of Brahman, Brahma-Vidya is the water that is everywhere. This is another way to understand it. The rituals are just like those people that are going towards a reservoir, they think they've got everything. They drank amazing water. The one that understands Brahm-Gyana, the Knowledge of Brahman , they can taste it everywhere, in everything. They do not need to subject Brahman to a specific thing. They can explore Brahman through every means. This is the joy that is discovered here. We are to be the people that drink the water that is everywhere, but those that just want to commit to Vedic rituals, who just want to drink from the well or from the reservoir. They will ignore the fresh flowing water that is everywhere. As we can establish ananda is not in the well, but ananda, bliss is everywhere. Don't get stuck to one thing when Brahman is infinite. This is what we need to understand. Brahman is infinite. Don't get stuck on one thing, be in awareness of Brahman and live in this world. Go to work, earn a salary. Start your own business, help other people, serve other people, that is the way of one that is in bliss. The Gyani the one that is full of wisdom that has viveka, the discernment of what is real and unreal, that person is a Brahmin. We normally say is someone that knows Brahman and nowadays people see a Brahmin they think it's a caste that you're born with. But here, we must understand that a Brahmin is a Gyani, is a realized person. Not necessarily because you're born in a Brahmin family, that you are a Brahmin. No. This is not the real understanding. And neither will a Brahmin consider that they are the highest caste either, or the highest class of people, or they are the chosen people. Because again, that will fall under the illusion of power and pleasure. The one that seeks power over people, dominion over people. Therefore that is not a Gyani ,that is not a Brahmin. So the real understanding of what a Brahmin is, is that one that knows Brahman. That's the real understanding. This is the understanding. It doesn't matter if you're born in a Brahmin family. That real Brahmin who knows Brahman is equal to Brahman. In the Guru Granth Sahib ji, specifically in the Sukhmani Sahib, there is a line that says Brahm Gyani aap Nirankar. What that means is that the Brahm Gyani, the knower of Brahman is Nirankar itself, is the formless itself. It's Brahman Itself. It is the Nirguna itself, the attribute-less. For it to be formless. It has to be without attributes. Therefore, what will this person do with material pleasures and Vedic rituals? They are detached from all this. If they come into that person's life, that's okay. They're not going to stop it. And they're not going to condemn it because they live from a state of balance. It's not that material pleasures do not come to them either. They do, but they know that it's not the end all or be all. They understand that is not meant to be the primary focus, that it will always be the secondary focus. Brahman is everything. I go to work, but I remember Brahman. I remain in that awareness of Brahman. That's how they live. Brahman is primary. The world is secondary, but both have to be lived. Both have to be the way we function in life. The material world, the material pleasures, they have to be our secondary focus because they support the primary focus of us discovering Moksha liberation. We have to appreciate the material pleasures that we attain because they support the life that we want to live, which is of being in the awareness of Brahman. The fact is we are already liberated and we just need to rediscover this. That's all we need to do. It's very simple. The mind here is to understand that once he's Brahman, even the well or reservoir is contained in this water that is everywhere. Likewise look beyond, and I'm getting, given an example about something, but before that, what we need to understand that the ananda that comes from Brahman is eternal, it is infinite. This ananda is uncreated just like Brahman. So once you attain Brahman, you attain that ananda all the time, it's accessible to you. It's not that you gonna be smiling 24/7, but your natural state of being will always be in ananda and you will be a more wonderful person to be around. People will want to be around you because you're so awesome. You're so loving and caring. This is what happens for those are in ananda. Going back to the point that I wanted to make now about someone that is in the well or reservoir and they cannot see that the water is everywhere. My guru used to give an example in his discourses of a frog that was stuck in a well, and the frog would only see a portion of the sky and thought that was everything. One day, it rained heavily for days upon end and the frog was able to leave the well because the water had risen to the surface. The frog hopped out and then the frog looked up to the sky and saw how expansive it truly was. That it covered the whole earth. Before he thought the well was bigger than the sky. Now he saw what the sky really was. Likewise once we have knowledge of Brahman, our true self, we see how limitless It really is, how infinite It really is and how It is always here, It surrounds us. And that our body is simply contained in Brahman. The bodies of those around us is contained in Brahman. The material pleasures that we seek are contained in Brahman. Everything is contained in Brahman. This is where liberation occurs, when we understand this, when we live in this realization, this is self-realization. It's not that the sky that was seen from the well was untrue. It was true. We just only saw a part of it. Likewise, one that studies the Vedas, that just of the karma-kanda, the rituals. They only see a particular part. One has to transcend that limited vision and see that limitless that is available to them in the Vedas itself, in the Upanishads. What Krishna describes to Arjuna is basically the message of the Upanishads, it's not different. As we know, Krishna has quoted the Upanishads in previous verses. Krishna has now guided Arjuna and given clarity on what he is to look for. No longer is he like others who are confused. That do not know what to look for or what they need to look for. He knows what to look for. He knows what needs to be done. Once we have viveka, once we have clarity, we know what to seek and here seeking really ends. Once you know what to seek, the seeking ends, because what happens is a discovery is made of what one really is. Arjuna does not need to seek pleasure separately, but can enjoy pleasure while being one with Brahman. Moksha is the one thing we look to discover. Whether we renounce life and become a sannyasi or we live as householders, moksha is available for both paths. Not one path is better than the other, because both allow liberation to occur. The pleasure of Brahman is ananda, bliss. This bliss is mukti. This bliss is liberation itself. So the prayer that I have as I end this podcast episode, that may be all understand our true self and that may we rediscover our being that is full of bliss. Thank you. Just a few reminders that a new episode will be uploaded every Sunday. You can follow my social media accounts specifically, I like to mention TikTok where I do lives. The account details are in the video description and show notes below. Please do rate and review the podcast. Thank you very much for listening. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti. Aum peace peace peace.