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March 19, 2023

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 8: Verse 18 - Verse 22)

This episode discusses the 8th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 18 - 22. 

Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong

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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 the podcast episode. Before we do begin, please do give your support to the Bearded Mystic podcast. It really, really helps the podcast if you can sign up to our Patreon page where you can get ad-free and bonus episodes like my thoughts on the Upanishads and other content as well. There's other benefits, depending on the tier that you select. So please take a look at the details that are in the show notes and video description below.

Every Saturday at 11:

00 AM Eastern Standard Time. There is a free virtual meditation session along with discussion and Q and A. Please find the details in the show notes and video description below if you're interested in meditating with the community. If you have any questions, you can ask them in the new series, Direct and Unfiltered with the Bearded Mystic. More information is in the show notes and video description below. Please like, comment, and subscribe if you're watching this on YouTube. And if you listening to this on your favorite podcast streaming app, please do give this podcast a five star rating and review the podcast and do follow or subscribe to get future episodes. So today we will be continuing on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita and we will be looking at chapter 8, verses 18 to 22. Let's begin with verse 18. All manifestations within Prakriti come into being at the start of Brahma's Day and are dissolved into an unmanifest state at the beginning of his night. The ultimate source of they coming into being is the transcendental Brahman realm, which cannot be directly seen by those living within the realms of matter. So we are going to break this verse up a little. All manifestations within Prakriti come into being at the start of Brahma's day and are dissolved into an unmanifest state at the beginning of his night. So from here, what we understand is very clear that the nature or prakriti is limited within time, its scope is within time. It can't go beyond time. Prakriti will always belong to the conceptualization of time and also the function of time. Everything is manifested in the start of Brahma's day, so we can understand that being light and we can understand that to be 8.64 billion years. One day of Brahma's is 8.64 billion years, so that's a lot. Then all of that dissolves into an unmanifest state. So there's no creation at all. No aspect of creation. There is no prakriti at all, and that's in the night. Again, for 8.64 billion years, there will be this unmanifest state. This shows us two things that prakriti is always changing so we can establish that and Brahma's Loka is also changing. Because of that we know that that cannot be the Ultimate Reality. That cannot be Brahman. This is Brahma. So Brahma is known as the creator, or the creative principle of nature, of existence. The second part of the verse is: the ultimate source of their coming into being is the transcendental Brahman realm, which cannot be directly seen by those living within the realms of matter. This is very important to understand as this is literally the Ultimate Truth. The source of all manifestation and dissolution of that manifestation is in Brahman. It's all in Brahman. The reason for that is because Brahman is the observer or that Witness Consciousness, which does not change according to the manifest or unmanifest state of Existence. It being the sum total of Sat-Chit-Ananda, so Sat being existence, chit meaning Consciousness and ananda meaning bliss. That's why it's transcendental, because it is beyond these things Brahman is the base of all existence, or you could say the underlying source of all existence. Everything stems from this Brahman, this cannot be directly seen because you as the observer are the Seer itself and not the seen. If it can be seen, then it's an observer, then it can be observed. Therefore, it is subject to change and therefore it is not transcendental. So we know that this Brahman is the Seer. It is the observer. It is the Witness Consciousness. It is the awareness that is aware, and that's all we need to know. That's all we need to kind of get ourselves accustomed to understanding now. And understanding the Bhagavad Gita in that light. Only that which changes like name and form is seen or observed, as I mentioned. So do not think that this Brahman can ever be observed. It cannot be observed. You can only be in awareness of its own awareness. As we live in this world currently manifested in Brahma's day, existing as prakriti. We have identified with this changing nature. So we've constantly been feeling that we are prakriti, we are nature, we are existence, we are creation. There must be a creator. There must be something that made all of this and all these things come up. But actually what happens is once you are comfortable with understanding that there is only this Formless Awareness, you don't need anything else. Existence is. Consciousness is. Ananda is. You do not need anything. Prakriti is. Purusha is. You don't need to have these things define why there is something in the world. You no longer care about the function of things because the function is not as important. Those that are jivan-mukt are able to be free from this hold of prakriti, of nature because they're always in the transcendental realm of Formless Awareness. They're always constantly in that awareness. They do not deviate from that awareness at all. And that has to be our state too. That's where we need to aim for. That's exactly what we need to try to achieve and attain in this very life. And then verse 19. O Arjuna, when the night of Brahma arrives, the bodies of the countless beings living within matter are destroyed, along with the lokas on which they live. When the day of Brahma arrives, the atmas reincarnate and resume the evolutionary journey within matter, continuing exactly where they had been interrupted by the previous cycle of destruction. This is very, very interesting and this message is gonna come up again in the Bhagavad Gita. It's important to understand it now, but don't worry if you don't get it, there'd be another chance to understand it because this is the point of the Gita is that Sri Krishna really is talking about only one thing, and that is that the Purusha is supreme. This changeless awareness is supreme, and whatever is changing is unreal, and whatever is changeless is Real. That's all. That's the message of the Gita because you are that which is changeless and it's going into that. Now the question is, or the inquiry for us is, is are we remembering this whenever we look at a line and yes, we have to then understand on what level that line is trying to tell us. We need to look at it from a Nirguna aspect, and sometimes we have to look at it from a Saguna aspect. So Nirguna meaning without attributes, and sometimes we have to look at it as Saguna aspect. For example, Brahma here will be a Saguna aspect. It has the attribute of creativity. That's the way to also understand these, these lines. Let's break this verse up a little. O Arjuna, when the night of Brahma arrives, the bodies of the countless beings living within matter are destroyed along with the lokas on which they live. This shows us that ultimately everything will be destroyed. There'll be nothing here that will remain, not a single atom. So do not think that something even that cannot be seen will remain? No. That will go too. There'll be no subatomic particles. There'll be no quarks there won't be anything left in existence, not even energy itself. This is something we have to understand that all of this will dissolve away, will be destroyed and Sri Krishna wants Arjuna to understand that life ultimately has to end, that there is an end point in terms of nature. And nature will go through a process of renewal as the later part of the verse will suggest. Now, anything with a name and form, including Arjuna, Sri Krishna, me, you, every one of us, the form that can be both gross and subtle, so that can be our jiva as well or the soul, all of that will be destroyed when it comes to the night of Brahma. We should not think that matter or some form of matter will remain. None of it will remain. Not even thought will remain. Not even intention will remain. Nothing will. And all realms apart from Nirguna Brahman will be destroyed. The only thing that remains is Nirguna Brahman because it's transcendental. It does not belong to this realm. It is changeless. Then Sri Krishna says in the next part of that very verse, that when the day of Brahma arrives, the atmas reincarnate and resume the evolutionary journey within matter, continuing exactly where they had been interrupted by the previous cycle of destruction. I love this part because it gives you a hint of what's going to happen or what is happening. First of all, when the night is over, reincarnation begins at the beginning of Brahma's day. When the night happens, everything stops, everything is halted. Then Karma will rejuvenate as Brahma's day begins. We have to understand the importance of jivan-mukti and transcending reincarnation. We don't want to be in this cycle of birth and death. We want to transcend it. We want to be jivan-mukt. That's why it's really important and the message of the Gita is, look, if you are willing to work on 8.64 billion years of life, go ahead! Do it. No one's gonna stop you, but just remember, that's a long time and that's a lot of karma that you will be accumulating and addressing. So don't take this time for granted. Don't think this opportunity will arise again. We cannot guarantee that. Here, Sri Krishna says only at this point of the journey where Brahma's night has begun and you've gone through Brahma's Night. Now, Brahma's Day is about to begin. Only in this point is there a real sense of, okay things have come to a halt, but it will continue as we left off. You won't have to restart again, so to speak. Just remember, you will have to wait for 8.64 billion years before we can continue our evolution towards Jivan-mukti, if we continue to identify with name and form. The moment we continue to think that we have Karma, we are this body, we're going to have to wait for 8.64 billion years, when it comes to the end of existence in terms of matter. Now, Karma will always be recorded within nature and existence, and that's where Karma remains. There is no hope for those that think that this dissolution will reset things. It's not gonna reset anything. Yeah, nothing is gonna be reset here. You will begin where it left off. So don't think, oh, I will be able to do anything I want because at the end, my karmic debt will go to zero. There's no karmic debt. There's no karmic accumulation in terms of, something that you can reduce in that manner or gain in that manner. Karma is simply understanding that there are no fruits at all that can be attained by you or lived by you. It all belongs to matter, and this matter is not what you are. This prakriti is not what you are. These are the subtle points that we have to understand. Now, there is a popular belief that the world will be destroyed in 5,000 year cycles, but these are just untrue and baseless. There is a famous spiritual group, the Brahma Kumaris, that do believe that the world will begin again in 5,000 years. So basically right now, apparently we are towards the end , we are in Kalyug and I took their seven day course. So I'm talking with authority here. They claim that everything gets repeated the same way. But the problem with that is they can't tell me about evolution. Okay. They can't talk about evolution. That's fine. But they can't talk about why there's dinosaurs bones, why there's fossils from billions of years ago and millions of years ago. How did they even come into being, if there's only 5,000 year cycles. Now, you know, they predicted that the world would be destroyed a couple of times, and now they call it a transformation. So they're changing their own messaging, which tells you how crooked it is. So yeah, so, but you can see from here how their message is not according to the Gita, because the Gita does not talk about 5,000 year cycles. In fact, the Gita is talking about 8.64 billion years is one day of Brahma, and also one night a Brahma is 8.64 billion years, so it shouldn't be taken lightly here. I just wanted us to be very clear on this point because I know a lot of people who listen to the Brahma Kumaris as well, but if their philosophy is not sound and not logical at all and defeats any rational explanation, we should steer clear from such philosophies, especially if they're not able to address this question. If one Brahma Kumari, I'm open to listening to your answers. If you can answer this question for me, then it'd be great. Can you tell me how you can prove that there's 5,000 year cycles? This verse should also get rid of any notions that there are special souls, like, which is said in the Brahma Kumaris as well, and, or that there's a repetitive drama that keeps reoccurring. It's sadly not gonna happen. And, you know, there's no evidence of that apart from one person claiming it, which I find to be a very dishonest person anyway. The reason why there's no Special Souls is because the moment we think that there's someone special, or that there's a special number of souls that are gonna be transcending into the new age or into Satyug, these are all imaginary thinking, imaginary stories, and there are stories in where they're said because we like stories and we as human beings prefer them, but when it comes to the actual experience of life and reality, it's totally different. So like I said, I just want to be very clear that the Bhagavad Gita does not support such phony philosophies. And we should not listen to such people either, because although I do believe you can learn from everybody, but there, when the basic knowledge is ignored, you should run away from it. It's similar to how I feel about ISKCON, although with ISKCON, they do not have this silly philosophy of special souls or this repetitive cycle, but even their endpoint makes no sense of Krishna being in Vrindavan, and that you get jealous of Krishna and come back onto the Earth. So there's this constant duality. The truth is non-dual, the Gita has been explicit on this. There's no special, like in the Brahma kaaris, they believe there's a Shiv Baba, then there's a Brahma Baba. Then there's these special souls, these I dunno what the number is anymore. There's none of that. And anything that follows such lines, and whichever path keeps this dualistic thinking is not looking to advance you in any way. It's only if you are great for the organization, do they see you as beneficial. You have to be very alert with these things, and you have to be very, very conscious of where these teachings are taking you to and look at their teachings without any bias. But like I said, I'm happy for a discussion. I'm happy for a debate on this. I'm not someone who turns around and thinks that you should not debate on such matters. You should, and there should be clarity. Now let's go to verse 20. Beyond this duality of the manifest and unmanifest realms of material existence within prakriti, there is another realm of existence that is of a different nature. While everything within matter fluctuates, this luminous Brahman realm remains steady Again, remember chapter two is all about what is real and unreal. And again, Sri Krishna is reemphasizing this message. Now let's break this verse up a little. Beyond this duality of the manifest and unmanifest realms of material existence within prakriti, there is another realm of existence that is of a different nature. This is the main thing that Sri Krishna has been wanting to allude to. First of all, he understands that Arjuna considers that this flesh and bones that he has and that other people have is everything. That's the whole of existence. Even though he's heard the knowledge of Brahman, even though he knows these things, but he hasn't fully, assimilated those teachings, he's not fully abiding by those teachings. This emphasis is also there, this repetition because Brahm Gyana takes time to understand. This knowledge of Brahman is always gonna take time to understand and only rare few ever understand this, what this knowledge means? When we talk about Brahman being the changeless reality, not everyone can understand what this changeless reality really is. We prefer to follow an isht-devta or Guru or someone that has a form or something that has a form, whether that's a book or whatever. We prefer those things because they're tangible for us. We can do something with it. But with something like the Brahm Gyana, which is intangible, which cannot be fixed in any way, modified in any way. It's simply the pointing towards, or the insight towards this changeless reality, this ultimate reality. It's a challenge for anyone. So that's why it's very important that after, if we have questions after the Bhagavad Gita, it may be that our foundation is not strong. It may be that our foundational knowledge needs to be improved upon, so that's something we will have to look into. Arjuna may be having these thoughts that, okay, if all this is going to happen, If I'm going to keep reincarnating and it's gonna take billions of years, how can I get outta this? How can I get outta this web of desires, of likes and dislikes, of pleasure and pain, of hot and cold and this dualistic nature of life? How can I transcend it? How can I get out of it? Well, Sri Krishna wants to give some hope here. So he says that there is another realm of existence that is of a different nature. Now he's saying it in another realm because he understands that Arjuna is still in dualistic thinking. So how to get him into the non-dualistic thinking is gonna take time. So he's using the language to get there. The language or paradox. And if you want to learn more about the language or paradox, I do suggest you look at the same title 'Language of the Paradox' by Swami Sarvapriyananda it is complete and an utter genius in terms of a lecture, a brilliant lecture, one that I keep revisiting because there's just so much to grasp in that lecture. But do check it out. Then Sri, Krishna wants us to see me, you, everybody, that there is a window of opportunity here. Don't lose hope. Don't think that, oh, for 8.64 billion years you, there's nothing's gonna happen. You're saying don't even wait for that. Right now is Brahma's day, do something! That's what we need to look at. So understand this, it's a window of opportunity that's being offered to us. Now, Sri Krishna then says in the next part of the verse, that while everything within matter fluctuates, this luminous Brahman realm remains steady. That means it does not fluctuate at all. It's completely still. If it's completely still, it means it's completely changeless. Whatever fluctuates means it changes. Therefore it's ultimately unreal. So I want us to understand this. This is the context from chapter two that I keep going back to, because what happens is a lot of people when they talk about the Bhagavad Gita they ignore what was previously said and they just look at that verse, that's not the right way to do it. Not for me anyway. That's not the way I can do it. Others may have their reasons, but for me it makes more sense to do it this way. So anyway, let's get back to what that part of the verse means. We understand that everything that is material fluctuates. We know this matter. Anything made of matter. Anything that has a gross or subtle form is going to fluctuate from solid matter to the subtle matter of dreams, to the subtle emotions that we have, including the fluctuations of awareness of the small 'I' that all changes. Remember this small 'I' that we have, this ego is constantly changing and I seem to change according to my circumstances and the memories I have, the knowledge I have, the the things I learn, the things I unlearn, all these things end up being the fluctuating awareness of 'I', the small 'I', not the 'I am' of a Aham Brahmasmi not the true Aham. But there is Formless Awareness that we, in our meditation sessions every Saturday, we observe this. We observe this Formless Awareness, and we see that this Formless Awareness has not disappeared and does not change, does not fluctuate, does not appear, and then disappear in time. It's always there. Now, this Brahman is always steady. It is always still, and that's why in meditation, the first sign you get of any progress is steadiness, stillness. So you are meditating and where before your mind will be having incessant chatter, suddenly there's pauses of silence, pauses of stillness, , pauses of no thought. And you're like, where, how is this happening? And you just being, there's nothing happening. When I say nothing happening, nothing of any substance is happening. There is only the subject being, there's just the I amness being. That's the end point. Now you have to also function in the name and form. So don't think that this state has to be the only state to be in when you are functioning in life. So what happens for a Brahm Gyani, for someone who understands this knowledge of Brahman, what they do is they can remain in that Formless Awareness, that steadiness, and then utilize the fluctuating aspects of life, of matter and function in it accordingly. What they understand is the body and mind is doing its function, but awareness remains as it is untouched, unchanged, and it does not break at any point. There is no breaking in Formless Awareness, in Consciousness. Not at all. It is there during waking state, dream state, deep sleep and beyond. There is no break. There is no, there's nothing that can break that stream of Consciousness. It's a continuous stream to use the analogy. So this Brahman realm is not subject to change. So let me reemphasize that. It is not subject to change and this realm is full of light, therefore no day or night. Arjuna should definitely see this as his opportunity to transcend and enter into a state of jivan-mukti. Then verse 21. The Avyakta 'unmanifest' and akshara 'indestructible' place is the param gati the 'ultimate destination'. That place is the final goal and ultimate abode from which one never returns. It is my param dhama, 'the beautiful realm where liberated Immortal beings perpetually reside in their highest state of perfection'. So let's break this verse up. That avyakta ‘unmanifest’ and akshara ‘indestructible’ place is the param gati ‘ultimate destination’. First of all, we need to understand that two things need to be noted about the ultimate destination. One, it is unmanifest. There is no manifestation of any kind here. No creation, no subtle energies, nothing, no energy at all. There's no vibrations here. There's no vibes, there's no auras. There's nothing, zero, zilch, shunya And the other thing is it is indestructible. If it is not made of any attributes, what can destroy such a thing? Yeah. Only matter can be destroyed. But if something is indestructible, if something is akshara, it cannot be destroyed by anything because it is not a thing to be destroyed. It is not made of a form, it is not made of the gunas. The three gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas. Not made of any of those. This is what we have to understand. These are the two things that we must look out for, especially when people talk of heaven. You know, when people talk about the ultimate destination is heaven. Well, is it unmanifest and is it indestructible? These are the two things to understand. Remember in Hinduism, in Advaita Vedanta there may be Svarga Loka , but, but remember that that realm is not forever. So it's subject to change and is manifested. It doesn't even pass the first test. Then the second part of that verse, that place is the final goal and ultimate abode from which one never returns. This is the place where we complete our journey, that Brahman realm, that state of awareness or the state of Formless Awareness, of Nirguna Brahman. Once we get there, we've completed our journey. This is when we do not return back to the cycle of birth and rebirth. The final abode has to have the above two qualities. Remember the unmanifest and indestructible. This also means that ISKCON's faith and any other place believes that there is a realm where Sri Krishna resides or some other deity resides, and souls reach there and then come back to this Earth is absolutely false because Sri Krishna says here that the final goal and ultimate abode from which one never returns. That means you never come back. Why? Because there was never a a you in the first place. There was only this Brahman. That's also to be understood. Then he says, it is my param dhama 'the beautiful realm where liberated immortal beings perpetually reside in the highest state of perfection'. It is in this realm where perfection is really attained, liberated beings are here alone, no one else, and understand the context. They begin as beings. They get liberated. They achieve jivan-mukti and they understand their perpetual oneness, this continuous oneness, and they therefore remain in the param dhama. So not only the param dhama in terms of after death, but before death too. And what I want to mention here is that it says perpetually reside in their highest state of perfection. So understand that param dhama means a perpetual residence, so it is continuous. There is no break here, so this needs to be understood too. That's why mukti is the true end of the cycle. Please understand this, so it's a very interesting verse, but we have to really grasp the subtle details in this verse. Then verse 22. O Arjuna the final and supreme stage of self perfection is only achieved when the embodied atman focuses its entire being upon achieving an intimate relationship of joyful bhakti yoga with me, and this is the final stage of loving existence. That ecstatic love is the mysterious force by which all the universes are pervaded. Interesting. Let's break this verse up. O Arjuna, this final and supreme stage of self perfection is only achieved when the embodied atman focuses its entire being upon achieving an intimate relationship of joyful bhakti yoga With Me, and this is the final stage of loving existence. First of all, what we need to understand is this Me that he's talking about is Nirguna Brahman but maybe we find it hard to fall in love with something Formless or something with attributes. So let's take a few steps back. This stage of oneness, first of all, is achieved through an intense and intimate relationship of devotion. We are truly devoted to either Nirguna Brahman or to an isht-devta or Saguna Brahman. The step begins with an isht-devta which is a devta that you really adore. That can be you Guru, that can be any of the devis and devtas.. It can be Sri Krishna, it can be Saguna Brahman, it can be God itself. . But what ends up happening is a complete union with Formless Awareness. Eventually we rise to that level of Formless Awareness, where we do not need the isht-devta. That's, that's the end goal. And then there's just an intimate oneness. There's a intimate joy within oneness. There's a continuous love affair of oneness. Yeah. There's a devotion that happens in oneness where you are one with Formless Awareness and there's no need for anything else for, for another thing to be present in that devotion. There is this love that is overwhelming and unconditional, and that's the state that we have to try to attain. So once you are united in devotion with love, then you understand that all of existence is binded in that love. It's connected in that love, that thread of love is connecting everything together, and that's where you are united in devotion and therefore focus your mind and awareness on Brahman alone. That's all you need to do. So in the beginning, yes, we may have an isht-devta but the eventual goal is to get to formless awareness, to Nirguna Brahman and then be in that final stage of loving existence as the true I am, which is what Sri Krishna has been describing as his own self, which is Brahman. We are also Brahman. We just have to understand that that is what it is. In fact, this Sat-Chit-Ananda is experienced only through love. Love alone is what allows us to experience this Sat-Chit-Ananda and therefore focus your mind and awareness on Brahman alone. Then the second part of the verse is that ecstatic love is the mysterious force by which all the universes are pervaded. This ecstatic love is Formless Awareness alone. That's all we have to understand. This mysterious force is only a mystery for those who are still identified as the body. So it no longer will remain a mystery for us who end up knowing what this really is. So once one reaches that love, which reaches ecstasy, that certain high, you see how love pervades all of existence within its multiple universes. And it doesn't matter if there's multiple universes. All you know is that this ecstatic love, this prema-bhakti is everything and you remain in that perpetual love in oneness, and that is the ultimate goal. And so when people ask me, well, if Nirguna Brahman is attribute-less, how can you exist in life? How can you function if there's only Nirguna Brahman, if there is only non-duality and what they don't understand is the intense love that is in that state. When I'm being aware of being aware, there is nothing but love, and that's why I can say with full confidence that being in Formless Awareness is being in complete love with the whole of existence because it is all You. So that is the end of the episode. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family who may enjoy this content. Do follow me on social media to keep getting updates. Join the Bearded Mystic Podcast WhatsApp community group to continue this podcast discussion. Details with the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, do check out the podcast Patreon page as I mentioned earlier, and it really helps if you support me. So please do sign up to the Patreon page. Details are in the show notes and video description below. Please like and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. And please follow subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast streaming app. Thank you very much for listening, and we'll end with the Soham and Shanti mantra. Soham. Soham. I am That. I am That Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti. Aum Peace Peace Peace. Namaste.