In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 4th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 24 - 29. Sri Krishna instructs us to be completely one in Brahman and to offer all actions to Brahman. Sri Krishna highlights two differences between spiritual aspirants - some do it to please the devas, some offer their mind to the Ultimate Reality. Sri Krishna gives us two options on how to deal with the senses. One is to eliminate any information perceived from the senses before they reach the mind. The other is to let the senses give the information to the mind and the mind burns its effects by offering everything to Brahman. Both paths lead to the purification of the mind. Through thorough negation, we can reach Brahman. Some give up different things, take up certain practices, become monks, some offer their life breath as a sacred offering to Brahman.
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
I hope you enjoyed listening to the 34th episode of the Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.
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Cultivating Spiritual Curiosity
A show dedicated to exploring our spirituality & evolution of consciousness.
Rahul N Singh:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Bearded Mystic podcast and I'm your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast episode. Today, we'll be continuing on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. But before we do start a few things, if you would like to support the podcast, because you've enjoyed what you've been listening to do, sign up to the Patreon page. The link to that is in the video description and show notes below. Also, if you're interested in practicing the things that we talk about here in this podcast, you can join my free virtual zoom meditation class. That takes place every Saturday at 11:00 AM Eastern standard time. You can check what the times are according to your time zone and the link to that is in the video description and show notes below. Also, if you're watching this on YouTube or listening to this on good pods, please do give it a like, or a five star rating that would be greatly appreciated. Today we'll be looking at chapter four verses 24 to 29. But before that, let's do a recap of the last episode where we looked at chapter four verses 19 to 23. In that episode, we noticed that Sri Krishna makes a beautiful comment about the non doership of a person and how they're intellect is always turned towards Brahman. This Ultimate Reality, this Formless Awareness. Once this is done, all consequences or reactions to their actions are burned away by the knowledge of The Atman. The real Karma Yogi appears to be acting but because they're completely satisfied and they know who they are and they're complete in their understanding, they do nothing because they do not care about the reactions or the consequences, positive or negative towards their actions that they've done. The goal is to see ourselves as this Formless Awareness and then we also will have no karmic reactions created. We act without feeling anxious. As we are clear in knowing this reality of life, we have no desires and we do not grab to any results. The Sage is always balanced in their inherent peace they see the Atman in one and all, and therefore they can easily be free from any outcome of their actions. Understanding the oneness of all by performing every action as a sacred offering to the divine, they understand what they are, which is this Formless Awareness and everything around them is this Formless Awareness and that is the unique vision of a Karma Yogi. Let's start with verse 24. Whatever is offered into Agni 'the sacred fire' is Brahman. The ghee that is offered into the fire is Brahman. The fire itself is an extension of Brahman. The hutam 'the smoke arising from the sacred offering' is also Brahman, and Brahman is what is attained by one who sees Brahman in everything they do. Very beautiful verse. Let's break this up a little, whatever is offered into Agni, the sacred fire is Brahman. The ghee that is offered into the fire is Brahman. The fire itself is an extension of Brahman. The hutam the smoke arising from the sacred offering is also Brahman. We may have come across this type of ceremony when havans are done and we are invited to a house or to a family's gathering where they may do a havan, maybe they're brought a new home, maybe they've had a child. Maybe they want to do some worship, which will make the house just more peaceful in general. Some people do jagratas or they do satsangs, anything where you may purify the atmosphere of the home and what tends to happen when someone does a particular type of worship which is called a havan, they offer ghee, rice to the sacred fire. And all this is actually towards Brahman, this Ultimate Reality, this Formless Awareness, that's the real understanding behind it. Sometimes we get too fixated at the things that are offered rather than understanding that everything is Brahman. Everything that is being offered is being offered to the one who's already provided everything. For example, when we offer wood or rice or we offer water, all these things have been provided to us by this creation itself. And this creation itself is a manifestation of this One. It is an object of this Consciousness. Therefore we don't see it as separate. We see it as non-dual, a unity. Therefore, everything that we offer to the sacred fire is Brahman itself because Brahman is the one that has manifested it. Similarly, all our actions are offered to Brahman. Now whether the action is of doing a havan or a satsang, or doing any other type of religious or spiritual ritual or tradition or every action in terms of when we go to work, when we go to school, when we study, when we take an exam, when we go to a meeting, all these things are considered an action that can be offered to Brahman. Going for a coffee with a friend is an offering to Brahman, because if you are buying the coffee or tea, you are actually giving that to Brahman. You're offering that to Brahman, as long as you're not feeling that you want something in return. For example, even when we do a havan in a house or we do a satsang, it may be that we feel that our house will be pure, we'd be having a good beginning. That may be an expectation, but the one person that does this without expecting anything, they may find more purity in their home because they don't have a particular outcome that they're looking for. They know the natural consequence of doing these things, but they shouldn't think about it. They should just do the action and leave the reaction or the consequences to Brahman itself. When it talks about the fire is Brahman, the way to see fire is that it shows the all pervasiveness of Brahman itself. And what tends to happen when you put in the offerings, the fire pervades that box. This world is pervaded by Brahman and if you think about it, all the elements of nature are present throughout the earth. Therefore their all pervasiveness is there. Tell me where air is not. Tell me where space is not. Tell me where the potential of fire is not. Tell me where water is not. It's everywhere. It pervades everything. We should not feel that the all pervasiveness of the elements are not there. They are and therefore, so is Brahman. The whole point of this line is to see that everything is Brahman. There is not a single thing that is not Brahman. So I hope you've understood this. Now, the second line that we are looking at is and Brahman is what is attained by one who sees Brahman in everything they do. When we see this Brahman, this is now the method and the practice that is being offered. Sri Krishna is giving us a way on how to see the world, how to see Brahman, to build that awareness within us. If we see everything as Brahman and whatever we do, we see Brahman in that, the Formless Awareness is now manifested in that very action. This Brahman is what you are, and this is what is unveiled to you and this appears as an attainment. So it may be that we find that we attain Brahman, but actually it's already there. This understanding is already present and it's not really that anything is being unveiled to you. It's actually an understanding that this is present. You become absolutely absorbed in Brahman, constantly in Formless Awareness. And if we want to think about this, it's like this Brahman, you perceive it in everything, in between this mic it's there, in between me and my laptop screen it's there, in between me and this iPhone where I'm recording from, it's there, it's present in everything. When you see everything as Brahman, guess what's happening. This self remembering process is occurring, that there is only Brahman. Brahman is. Only this Formless Awareness. So what happens then? Our actions become more purified. Our actions become more concentrated and that's the whole purpose of spirituality is to be in this awareness all the time. Sometimes it's difficult to be in awareness, but with this understanding that Brahman is everywhere and we start perceiving this Brahman in everything. It makes the practice a lot easier. Therefore sleeping, sitting, working, walking, talking, everything is done in Brahman as Brahman. This strengthens the development of true knowledge and wisdom. This is the practice that mostly everyone talks about in the bhakti movement, whether that's Guru Nanak Dev Ji, or Kabir, Ji, or Ravidas Ji, or even today, most gurus talk about this, that you can be sleeping, sitting, eating, drinking, working, studying in this Brahman as Brahman. Sri Krishna in the context of this whole verse, instructs us, how to be completely one in Brahman and to offer all actions to Brahman. This is the most beautiful way that we can do. So remember this verse 24 as a great method for you to utilize this knowledge, to practice this knowledge in every aspect of your life. A method is given, practice it. There's no need to keep thinking about something when you can practice it now. Verse 25. Some yoga practitioners make a sacred offering to Agni, to please the Devas. Others make a symbolic offering of their own atman into the immortal fire of Brahman itself. First line is some yoga practitioners make a sacred offering to Agni, to please the Devas. This is an interesting line that some offer their worship or sacred offering to the devas, to the elements of nature. So for example, they will want to please Agni Devta or Vayu Devta or Indra Devta, basically the elements of fire, the elements of air, Bhumi Devta, the element of earth and we do this so we can have a more peaceful life. We can have more favorable circumstances. So sometimes this is what people do and what we need to understand is that that type of worship is limited, is not limitless like Brahman because Brahman alone is limitless. But these things that we are worshiping, these elements of nature, they have an expiry date. They have a limited span of time. Therefore we are to go towards the eternal, the changeless rather than the temporary and changing The devas will change, but this Brahman will never change. Sri Krishna saying that some people do that and, and that is fine. There's no problem with that. If that is someone's path and their way of being so be it. Not everyone can go towards Brahman. Not everyone can attain that understanding. That is completely fine. This is what we need to understand that some yoga practitioners are going to do this. Then in the second part, Sri Krishna says others make a symbolic offering of their own Atman into the immortal fire of Brahman itself. This line itself should be one that we contemplate. Even if you have to pause this video right now, think about what it means to you. Others make a symbolic offering of their own Atman into the immortal fire of Brahman itself, into the fire of this Formless Awareness itself. Wow. When I thought about this earlier, it really uplifted me and it uplifts me now, when I think about it, because this is what really surrender is all about. You know, some people offer their ego. Is that everything? No. Some people offer their actions. Is that everything? No, but those that offer their own mind, their own self. Their own identification of their personal self, to the immortal fire of Brahman. That is the most unique thing. When you say that this self is your True Self, it is You Brahman. It is not mine. There is no me in this. There is only You as the I am. You as the True I. That is what this line's about. When you make a symbolic offering that take all of this that I am, take all of Rahul. I offer it to this fire of Brahman. This mortal being will now become immortal. How? By offering itself to Brahman. So transferring your individual Consciousness to the Universal Consciousness of Brahman, this Formless Awareness. Imagine going from this individual awareness of the five senses and then transferring it to the Formless Awareness that is all pervading. For that is the purpose. For that is the whole reason of living. For me, that is the whole reason for life. Although this is symbolic, it is the ultimate surrender. This is what bhakti is. This is what devotion is. Where only Brahman remains, where only the Formless Awareness remains, because that is the only thing that is right now, right here, right now, forever and ever. It's not separate to us. It is the thing that binds us to everything yet is separate to everything. And although this is paradoxical, this is the ultimate understanding. And only a few ever understand this. Honestly, I chat to so many people. But only a few ever will talk to me on this level. This non-dual level is very difficult for a lot of people to comprehend. I don't claim that I'm completely there, but the more I talk to people who are there, it helps me further. And it establishes myself in the understanding more and more. The more I meditate on this Formless Awareness and I offer myself to this Formless Awareness. The deeper my meditation goes, the better my life becomes. The better husband I am to my wife, the better uncle I am. The better brother I am to my siblings, the better son I am to my parents. That is the whole purpose. That's what happens when we offer everything that we think we are to Brahman. Even our possessions, for everything that is associated to this mortal frame is offered to Brahman. Think about it, if you offer yourself, what else is left? Nothing else is left. All your possessions, all your thoughts, your emotions, your memories are offered to Brahman. Therefore everything is enhanced and that's the beauty. The context of this whole verse is that Sri Krishna highlights two differences between spiritual aspirants, some do it to please the Devas and some offer their mind, their self to this Ultimate Reality, to this Brahman, to this Formless Awareness. The choice is ours, what we want to take. Ultimately, whatever path we take is getting us closer to Brahman. If not, making us become or making us understand that we are Brahman. Verse 26. Others build a fire within themselves by restraining their bodily senses and there they burn the residues created by hearing and other sensory activities. Still others build a fire in their senses and burn sound and other objects of the senses as an offering to Brahman represented by the Agni burning within their body. We'll break this up again. So others build a fire within themselves by restraining their bodily senses and there they burn the residues created by hearing and other sensory activities. Here the fire is the knowledge of Brahman and they are able to restrain their senses. These yogis they're able to control the senses and limit their outreach. They can control the traveling of the senses and attach the senses to Brahman. This is what they can do. They observe the information that the senses give and before the mind can run away with it, it, it destroys it in the changeless fire of wisdom. That's what happens when they can restrain the bodily senses and burn away the residues that occur from hearing or seeing, or touching or tasting. For example, even if I think of that chocolate cake or red velvet cake, which is a newfound favorite of mine, Instead of running away with the thoughts of this chocolate cake or the red velvet cake. I'm able to restrain it and burn away that desire to keep eating it, even when I am full. Second part of it is still others build a fire in their senses and burn sound and other objects of the senses as an offering to Brahman represented by the Agni burning within their body. This is another approach and this leads to the same result, which is a purification of the mind that we talked about in the last verse. Others may find that their senses love traveling. So they let their senses go wherever they want. They let the mind observe what information the senses give, the attraction of the senses as well, but because they give this as an offering to Brahman, the senses do not claim control, whatever the senses perceive is an offering to Brahman. What you can do is maybe you have a desire and maybe your senses want to go towards those things, let them, but offer it to Brahman, offer it to the Supreme One. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna gives us two options on how to deal with the senses. One is to eliminate any information perceived from the senses before they reach the mind. This is mainly what the monks do or people who take sannyas. The other is to let the senses give the information to the mind and the mind burns its effects by offering everything to Brahman. This is something that householders can easily do and practice with a bit more ease. It is not as difficult as the former. Both paths will lead to the purification of the mind. So practice, whichever one suits you. The main thing is to practice. Practice is key. Verse 27. Other yogis offer all the activities of the 10 senses along with the vital prana, from breathing into the blazing fire of their own Atman, whose sacred flames are constantly rekindled by the sparks of vedic knowledge. I'm just going to go over the whole verse here. So how does this process work? Basically, you give up all the activities of the senses, the life breath, the heartbeat, and offer it all to the Atman to this eternal Brahman. So here the mind is suspended and the objective world is negated and the ego vanishes. The mind is fully identified with Brahman and one relishes in the divine knowledge and in the divine awareness of Brahman. So this is through neti-neti, you could say through negation, it's one way to reach Brahman. So you take everything away and basically remain with the Formless Awareness. This is a very direct and easier path to take, but what people tend to not understand is even though this is an easier path or a more direct path, you do have to spend time with it. It does take time. It's not as easy as this knowledge is given to you. You've got it. No, you have to build upon this and constantly have to practice this. This is one way you can do it, another method that may work for you. Verse 28. Some perform Yagna by giving material substances to those in need. Some observe tapasya the correct practices in the diligent performance of Ashtanga yoga as their Yagna. Still others perform Yagna through a vow of Svadhyaya knowing one's true self through study of vedic knowledge. Some perform Yagna by giving material substances to those in need. Some give up their wealth, their possessions and give it to the needy. The next part is some offer tapasya correct practices in the diligent performance of Ashtanga yoga as their Yagna. This aspect of tapasya will be austerities, fasting and other such practices. So when does that in terms of their Yagna, their sacred offering. Still others perform Yagna through a vow of svadhyaya knowing one's true self through study of vedic knowledge. So some will take monastic vows by completely studying the scriptures and meditation. This takes a lot of time and requires complete discipline. No one can take monastic vows and just think they can get away with it. No, you have to really be diligent, really focused, really attentive on your path and not everybody can do this. Not everyone can let go of being a householder and entering into a monastic order or being a monk, it's very difficult, but it's a path that some can take. And it's mentioned here by Sri Krishna as one available to others. Then verse 29. Some yogis perform Yagna by offering the inhalation of prana the breath into exhalation, and then the exhalation into the inhalation. They eventually achieve perfection through this Pranayama Yagna restraining the life force through breath control. Basically I'm gonna look at this as a whole verse. This is mindfulness, when one concentrates on the inhalation and then concentrates on the exhalation. This is just mindfulness practice that people talk about. Take a deep breath in, take a deep breath out and just be aware of the inhalation and the exhalation and offer it to Brahman. So when you inhale, you think of the Formless Awareness. When you exhale, you think of this Formless Awareness. When you inhale, you offer it to Brahman, which is vitalizing this whole body, and then you exhale, you offer it back to existence and therefore see the all-pervasiveness of Brahman. That's one way you can practice, so everything is offered as a sacred offering to Brahman. For me, I prefer what is mentioned in verse 27 which is about offering everything to Brahman, your 10 senses, your prana, from the breathing, thoughts and emotions, and you put that into Brahman. So you keep offering and surrendering to Brahman. And that for me is where it's a lot easier where I can negate everything. So everything that I see and perceive through the senses can be negated. I can take away the whole existence and just stay with that, which remains, which is this Formless Awareness. For me, that is much easier. Doing the neti-neti process and this is something that Sri Ramana Maharshi told others to practice a lot. And it is one of the most direct paths you can take. But some people may prefer to take a monastic order and be a sannyasi. That is fine. Some may just do the simple practice of mindfulness. And as one is being mindful, one remembers Brahman and again, one will achieve and attain that Formless Awareness. It's up to you, which path you want to take. Think about it. Take some time to contemplate what path would really appeal to you and take that and that would be a great way for you to progress in your spirituality. And it's the whole purpose of what we learn here in the podcast. So we'll end the podcast episode here. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family. Whoever may enjoy this content, do share it with them, let them know about the podcast. If you're watching this on YouTube, do like, comment and subscribe. If you are listening to this, do like this on your podcast streaming app. If you would like to follow me on social media to keep getting updates or subscribe to the monthly Bearded Mystic newsletter or to join the Bearded Mystic Podcast Discord Server, the details are in the show notes and video description below. Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you would like to support the Bearded Mystic podcast, check out the podcast's Patreon page, the details are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to rate and review the podcast on our website, you can do so on www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com. Thank you very much for listening. We'll end with feeling the peacefulness of this Formless Awareness. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste.