Brahman is Self-Evidencing & What Happens After Person Dies (159)

Summary:

Lesson 159 demonstrates brahman can't be none other then you. Part 3 (Brahman is in form of Jiva). Starting with journey of jiva's death.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 6, 7, 8


Revision:

  • Part 1 (Verse 1, 2 and second half of verse 3) shows the problem of samsara.
  • Part 2 (Verse 3-6) provides the solution to samsara in 4 remedies:
    1. Dispassion (vairagyam):
      • A product of discrimination (viveka), which is a product of performing one's svadharma (duties in the world, making decisions, and assessing profit/loss in various experiences).
    2. Bhakti:
      • Incorporating religion and spirituality into life as priority above all.
    3. Universal Values:
      • Discussed in CH13. They mature the mind to grasp and hold the vision, and live a happy life of contribution.
    4. Brahma-vidya:
      • Self-knowledge which removes notional distance that “I” am away from the truth.
      • Example why studying any scriptural text (under guidance of teacher) is important:
        • Krishna uses word “I / Me” loosely in B.Gita. Depending on context, it can either mean (as brought out by guru):
          1. Eka rupa: God in some form, like the sun, Himalaya mountains.
          2. Aneka rupa / vishvarupa: Every form in past, present and future is God.
          3. Nirguna / arupa: Nature of God is formless (sat-cit).
        • So when Krishna says “Surrender to Me”, the uninformed reader of B.Gita; not knowing which is referring to; reader will interpret according to whatever believes Krishna represents.

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 6:

na tat bhāsayate sūryaḥ na śaśāṅkaḥ na pāvakaḥ ।
yat gatvā na nivartante tat dhāma paramam mama ॥ 15-6॥
Neither the sun, nor moon, nor fire, illumines that having gone to which, they do not return. That is My limitless abode.

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: The ones who discover Brahman as one’s very Self – for them, there is no return to ignorance (saṃsāra) ever again. Brahman being independent, full of itself as the limitless One – lends existence even to the glorious sun, moon and fire.
  • Krishna tells the nature of Brahman; borrows from Katha Upanashad 2.2.15

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं
na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṁ
There, the sun does not shine, nor the moon and the stars.

नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः।
nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto'yamagniḥ
Nor the lightening, much less fire.

नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः।
tameva bhāntam anubhāti sarvaṁ
Everything shines, reflecting God's glory.

तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥
tasya bhāsā sarvam idaṁ vibhāti ||
This whole Universe is illumined by God's light (the Atman).

  • VERSE IS SAYING: Brahman is not objectifiable through any instrument-of-knowledge (can’t be illumined by anything).
  • To help understand Brahman; Upanishads uses example of light in whose presence things are known. It says that every sense-organ can be compared to light. Because sense-organ is that in whose presence things become known.
    • Light/Evidencer = pramāṇa. |  Evidenced: prameya.
    • Examples:
      • Ear is a light, in whose presence sounds are known. Sight, smell, sensation, taste-organ.
      • Inference.
      • A lesson throws light onto a topic.
      • Words are light called shabda-pramana, through which humans come to know things.
  • Whereas Brahman is that which can NEVER be illumined-by, or known through any light (pramana). No light can objectify Brahman, because Brahman is the ONLY principle that’s NOT an object-of-knowledge (prameya).
    • As stated in verse: sūryaḥ na bhāsayate, na śaśāṅkaḥ, na pāvakaḥ: Sun does not illumine it, neither the moon, nor fire.
      • Sun is presiding deity of eyes (representing 5-sense-organs). Moon deity of the mind (buddhi, manas, ahaṃ kāra). Fire deity of speech (represents 5-organs of action).
      • Thus Brahman can’t be objectified/perceived by the eyes, heard by the ears, conceived-of by thoughts, felt by emotion, nor described by speech.
      • Why not? Because Brahman is beyond pramāṇa (instrument of knowledge) and prameya (attribute).
  • If nothing in existence can reveal Brahman (God) directly, then how to know Brahman?
    • As the subject; the conscious being in whose presence both the pramana and prameya are objectified.
      • Because the subject is the only principle that doesn’t need to be revealed by something else, since self-evident. Thus Brahman (the final reality) happens to be “I”, the ever-awareful subject.
  • So what is Brahman?
    • The experiencer of everything, but which is never experienced. The seer of everything, but never seen. The unseen seer. The unheard hearer. The unsmelled smeller. The untasted taster. The untouched toucher.
    • The conscious-principle. Illumines the inert world, but is not illumined by the inert world. Illumines matter, but never illumined by matter.
    • Brahman knows matter, but matter does not know Brahman.
    • Brahman is Self, the consciousness which is aware-ing the 3 states (Waking, Dreaming, Sleeping).
  • If Brahman is “I”, the subject, then how far should I travel to reach Brahman?
    • No distance. Because reaching Brahman is not an event in time. If Brahman was an event in time, you wouldn’t be present right now (wouldn’t exist / darkness).
    • So reaching Brahman involves dropping the notion that “I am not Brahman right now”. Reaching is entirely an intellectual process.
    • And ignorance of Brahman is a notional distance that Brahman (God) is other then this ordinary Awareness that’s been near-and-dear throughout all times of living.
      • How to remove the notional distance? By knowledge alone. Because wrong-notion is an incorrect-knowledge problem; not an action problem.
  • tad mama paramam dhāma: Brahman is my supreme abode.
    • In Purana, before Krishna concluded his physical incarnation, his friend Uddhava wanted to accompany Him. Krishna said, “Not even Garuḍa (my vehicle), Lakṣmī (my consort), Sudarśana-cakra (my weapon) can accompany Me in My abode. Because there I reside alone in My own nature”.

 

PART 3: Brahman is in form of jīva (Verse 7-11)

JĪVA’S DEATH & REBIRTH:

 

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 7:

mama eva aṃśaḥ jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ ।
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhāni-indriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati ॥ 15-7॥
A part of Myself alone is in the form of the eternal jīva in the world of beings. When the one who rules (the body) departs, he draws to himself the (five) sense organs, and the mind as the sixth, obtaining in the body.

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: (a) The Supreme (Puruṣa) expresses Oneself through the jīva (who is eternal). (b) On death, the jīva withdraws the 5-sense-organs and mind away from the gross body; thereafter travels to inhabit another [according to quality of previous life].
  • STRUCTURE:
    • PART 1 (samsara description) & PART 2 (samsara antidote) is over.
    • PART 3/4 will say that both the jīva and jagat are nothing but modifications of Brahman. Thus there’s no universe, only Brahman. Just as any ornament gains form-name only for sake of transaction, but it’s just clay.
      • Also hinted in BG 4.24: brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahma-karma-samādhinā
    • To convey this, Krishna will categorize the Universe into 2 parts: (a) Conscious experiencer, called jīva. (b) Inert objects of experience, called jagat.
      • Thus universe = jīva + jagat. Experiencers + experienced.
  • LINE 1 OF VERSE: Starting with jiva; mama eva aṃśaḥ jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ: A part of Myself is in the form of the eternal-Jīva.
    • 2 Definitions of an “eternal-jiva”:
      1. Macrocosm standpoint: Isvara called “eternal-jiva”, which includes the 3 bodies (Causal: maya | Subtle: hiranyagarbha | Gross: virat). Same as Purusha per CH13.
      2. Microcosm standpoint (which verse is referring to):
        • “Eternal” has to be put in context. It means: Jiva has capacity to travel (eternally) in different bodies, until one life it realizes it's non-separation from the truth.
          • So Jīva has capacity to continue (traveling) eternally, UNTIL it gains jñānam (self-knowledge) in one life only, and ascertains it, by guidance of guru.
        • Eternal-jiva = Original Consciousness (Brahman) reflected onto subtle-body. In other words: reflecting-medium which is reflecting Consciousness (cit). In Tattva Bodha, eternal-jiva called; Reflected consciousness (Chaitanya pratibimba, chidabhasa).
        • IN SHORT: Jiva is sanatana. Means Jiva doesn’t die after physical death, but travels. Capacity for eternity, until liberates. 
        • Undergoes 3 states of experience (Sleep, Dream, Waking).
        • Undergoes 3 kinds of knowledge:
          1. I am a doer/enjoyer. Thus conditioned by ignorance. Ajñāni.
            • IE: Eternal-jiva is convinced to be a non-eternal-jiva (mind under spell of ignorance). In short, “YOUR NAME” / ahamkara).
            • Analogy: Bucket of dirty water is reflecting the sun.
          2. Indirect-knowledge (paroksha jnana): I am Brahman (but an still at level of notion / not convinced).
          3. Direct-knowledge (aparoksha jnana): I am Brahman (actual, effortless, permanent). Jñāni.
            • Analogy:
              • Bucket (physical body) of clean water (subtle body that’s scripturally educated) is reflecting the sun (cit). The bucket knows, “Whatever is causing this bucket to KNOW about itself, does not belong to the bucket, but to the SAME sun that’s also causing billions of other buckets to know about themselves”.
              • The clear-crystal knows the redness-attribute does not belong to it, but to the red rose. Rose is equated to various attributes of body-mind. And clear-crystal to sat-cit.
  • LINE 2 OF VERSE: manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhāni-indriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati; On death, eternal-jīva (sukshma-sharira; 5 sense organs & mind) is withdrawn from the gross-body; thereafter travels to inhibit another [once again getting populated by the past life samskaras; thus the start of another non-eternal-jīva with same tendencies as prior non-eternal-jīva].
    • Upon birth, new set of prarabdha-karma is assigned in form of punya-papa.
    • PUNYA-PAPA DESCRIPTION:
      • Think of punya as dharma which was too busy to compensate you before. It’ll be your “angel” next life.
      • Think of Papa as adharma which didn’t get a chance to cause suffering. It’ll hold you back next life.
      • Punya-papa prarabdha is rent for next life. And both find and follow the doer, just as a calf finds it’s mother amidst 1000’s of cows.
      • Meaning the quality of prarabdha-karma determines quality of body, parents, environment, genes, guna-composition.
    • Indriyas are referring to subtle senses (which travels upon death; which belong to subtle-body). Physical senses are golakam.
      • EG: Caksu-indriya (belongs to subtle-body) aligns with caksu-golakam (belongs to gross-body) at time of birth.
    • What determines time of death? Once prarabdha-karma assigned to present life is exhausted.

 

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 8:

śarīram yat avāpnoti yat ca api utkrāmati īśvaraḥ ।
gṛhītvā etāni saṃyāti vāyuḥ gandhān iva āśayāt ॥ 15-8॥
When the Lord (jiva) obtains a new body, he goes, taking these (the sense organs and the mind) with him just as the wind (would carry) the fragrance from their sources (the flowers).

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: When gross body is dropped, the jīva sustains it’s 5-sense-organs and mind. They are carried over to a new gross body – just as the wind carries the scent (subtle) of the flowers (gross), leaving the flowers behind.
  • When eternal-jiva leaves the body, it carries along with it the subtle-body (5 sense/perception-organs & mind). It’s new birth will be determined by guna-coloured-samskaras from previous life.
    • Meaning the non-eternal-jiva (in present life), determines the quality of life for the non-eternal-jiva in the future.
      • Just as the present jiva-you, is living strengths/weaknesses according to what past life jiva did.
  • Death Process:
    • As person ages, starts packing away ability to see/hear/walk/digestive-power.
      • The sensory organs shut down from grossest to subtlest.
      • Right before departure, udāna-prāṇa activates, thus ejects the subtle-body (conditioned by the vasanas).
  • Krishna gives metaphor of death process:
    • Flower = gross body.
    • Flower has fragrance (samskaras/vasanas).
    • Just as invisible wind carries the invisible fragrance, the invisible jiva carries the fragrance of samskaras (tendencies) and the subtle-body (reflecting-medium) from the physical body.
  • How long until subtle-body traveling jiva inhibits a new gross-body?
    • Impossible to tell. Because gross-time-space is only valid in gross-world. What is 100 years for us, may be 1 min for the traveling jīva.
  • WHAT HAPPENS UPON BIRTH? Next verse…

 

Keywords: udana-prana


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 8 Feb, 2022

 

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