Awareness vs. Matter / What is Purushottama (Supreme Being)? (162)


Lesson 162 divides the ONE reality into 3 portions; kshara (manifest), akshara (unmanifest), purushottama (unchanging).

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 16, 17, 18, 19, 20


  • PART 1-4 complete.
  • PART 4: One Reality appears in form of universe V12-15.
    • It appears to create a field for jiva’s to play out their endless desires, ideas, fancies.
    • If there’s no jiva, universe would serve no purpose, because there’s no one to experience it.
    • 3 eminent Bhagavan glories are cross-culturally recognized: Sun, moon, fire.
      1. Sun:
        • Solar energy blesses life directly/indirectly.
        • Circadian rhythm (affects physical, mental, behavioural changes) within 24h period.
        • Sleep, seasons.
        • Warmth.
      2. Moon:
        • Gives nutrition to plants. Moods. Tides. Light (for hunting).
        • When sun sets, moon rises, corals start to release egg sperm into sea. Looks like snow going up. Corals play major role in ocean habitat.
          • Also produce reefs, which protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities (tourist attractions), source of food and medicines.
      3. Fire:
        • Physical (used for melting, building, heating).
        • Internal digestive fire (vaishvanara, samana-prana, jatharagna).
    • VERSE 15:
      • Krishna, speaking as Awareness, “I am in heart of all beings”.
      • I am:
        • Jnanam: Learning/assimilation function.
        • Smriti: Recollection of learned function. Or glue.
        • Apohanam: Forgetting function.
        • Subject matter of all scriptures: Triad.
          1. Knower (subject/atman)
          2. Known (objects/matter/subtle-body)
          3. Means of knowing (refers to either sense organs OR methodology)

PART 5: Meaning of Puruṣottama (Verse 16-18)

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 16:

dvau imau puruṣau loke kṣaraḥ ca akṣaraḥ eva ca ।
kṣaraḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni kūṭasthaḥ akṣaraḥ ucyate ॥ 15-16॥

The Perishable and the imperishable – these are the two puruṣas in the world. The perishable is in the form of all beings and elements.  The imperishable is said to be the changeless (māyā).

  • ESSENCE: There are only two beings (puruṣas) manifest in the universe. The kṣara (perishable-puruṣa), being time-space-objects. And the akṣara (imperishable-puruṣa), being māyā.
  • Krishna divides universe into 3 portions.
    • PORTION 1:
      • Visible universe, perceptible to sense instruments or scientific instruments. Manifest universe. Matter. pancha-bhutas (5 elements). Jagat.
      • Called: Kshara-purusha (kṣara-puruṣa)
      • Constantly dissolving into akshara-purusha and being thrown out (vikshepa-shakti) back into kshara-purusha/jagat.
    • PORTION 2:
      • Since matter (in Portion 1) seemingly disappears, where does it go? It can’t go out of existence due to Law of Conservation of Matter. Where does it go at pralaya (time of dissolution of universe)? It survives as unmanifest matter.
      • Constantly deceives because when we think trouble/thought is gone, it manifests again. Meanwhile we take up false confidence that “I’m healed / free of samskaras.
        • EG: After waking, yesterdays thoughts immediately continue. Sleep was temporary refuge.
      • Called: Akshara-purusha (akṣara-puruṣa) which is usually given to nirguna brahman (Original Consciousness). In this case, refers to māyā (unmanifest potential). Macrocosmic Causal Body.
      • SUMMARY:
        • Isvhara = akshara-purusha (cause) + kshara-purusha (effect) + PORTION 3…
    • PORTION 3:
      • Since portion 1/2 are changing superimpositions (kṣara-akṣara-upādhi), they require an unchanging substratum. Just as pot-ware requires presence of clay to support each name-form.
      • Called: sat-cit (Existence-Awareness).
        • Distinct/independent reality.
        • Not a part, property, product of matter.
      • Krishna calls: Uttama purusha (Uttamapuruṣa) or Purusa Uttama (Purushottama / IAST: puruṣottama)
        • Puruṣottama = parā-prakṛti (CH7) / kṣetrajña, puruṣa (CH13) / Brahman (CH14).
          • Sometimes referred as kūṭastha (kutashta); [unchanging] anvil. Because serves as substratum for other metals to be shaped.
        • Thus Puruṣottama (whose nature is Existence-Awareness) enters the world (14 lokas) through His kṣara-akṣara-upādhi (portion 1/2). Just as H2O (as though) enters the wave (in reference to the Ocean).
          • That’s why everything in Existence enjoys the status of “IS”. The IS-ness is attributed to Puruṣottama, while the name-form IS attributed to kṣara-akṣara-upādhi.
  • Why is Brahman called puruṣa (person)?
    • Because nothing is apart from Brahman. Just as no pot-ware is apart from clay (the content that obtains through-and-through all name-forms).
    • Because from manifest standpoint, when (a) consciousness, (b) intelligence and (b) material come together… the whole existence can be seen as One vast intelligent being. Alive!
  • SANSKRIT: Sanskrit incorporates jnana-yoga in grammar: 1st person pronoun for “I” (asmad), called: uttama-puruṣa.
  • Comparison between Brahman (Portion 3) and Matter (Portion 1/2):
Consciousness (Your true nature) Matter
Nirgunam: Without any qualities/attributes. Saguna: With (infinite) qualities.
Cetana: Conscious. Sentient. Acetana: Not conscious. Inert.
Nirvikāra: Free of modification (as it’s all-that-is). Savikāra: Undergoes modifications (as it’s bound to time). Each second it’s composition is different.
Nirvikalpa: Indivisible. Not-two. Limitless. IE: Can't divide yourself. Savikalpa: Subject to divisions / parts. Limited because if it’s X it’s not Y. Can divide thought.
Satyam: Independent and whole. Lends existence to kshara/akshara. Mithya: Does not enjoy an independent reality. Borrows content of it’s appearance from Satyam.
  • CONCLUSION: Krishna says, Brahman (puruṣottama) is the Final Reality; and is your very Truth.

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 17:

uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ tu anyaḥ param-ātmā iti udāhṛtaḥ ।
yaḥ loka-trayam āviśya bibharti avyayaḥ īśvaraḥ ॥ 15-17॥

Different (from these) is the Supreme puruṣaḥ, the Limitless Self, which pervades and sustains the three worlds. It is the changeless Lord.

  • ESSENCE: Other then the two [in V16], is the Supreme Puruṣa (paramātmā); pervading the 3 worlds (waking, dream, sleep).
  • Uttama Purusha sustains, supports and lends Existence (IS-ness) to kṣara-akṣara-upādhi. Just as gold to ornaments, or movie projector lends existence to projected frames.

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 18:

yasmāt kṣaram atītaḥ aham akṣarāt api ca uttamaḥ ।
ataḥ asmi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ ॥ 15-18॥
Since I am beyond Kṣara-puruṣaḥ (perishable) and Akṣara-puruṣaḥ (imperishable), in the world and in the Veda, I am renowned as Puruṣottama.

  • ESSENCE: Transcending the perishable-puruṣa and the imperishable-puruṣa – for that reason, I am known in the Vedas and the world as Puruṣottama (the Highest Puruṣa).
  • Why is Brahman the Highest Puruṣa? Because He is (a) unsullied by kshara-akshara-upadhi, (b) unaffected by avarana-vikshepa shakti, (c) untouched by 3 gunas, and (d) remains ever limitless.
    • Just as rope (brahman) is ever free of the snake (upādhi). The snake belongs to the perceiver who doesn’t have full knowledge of the rope, consequently innocently fills in an approximate. IE: avarana-vikshepa shakti at work.
    • If I feed the snake (to keep it happy so it doesn’t bite), I don’t feed the rope. I only feed/reinforce my own illusion that snake exists.
  • When Krishna refers to himself as Puruṣottama, He is not referring to His gross/subtle body. But the consciousness because of which Krishna is Conscious just as you are Conscious. Krishna says to Arjuna, “Don’t look at my body. I am the Awareness behind the Krishna body”.

PART 6: Benefit of Direct Knowledge of Self as Brahman (Verse 19-20)

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 19:

yaḥ mām evam asammūḍhaḥ jānāti puruṣottamam ।
saḥ sarva-vit bhajati mām sarva-bhāvena bhārata ॥ 15-19॥

The one who is not deluded, who knows Me (puruṣottama) in this way, he, (becoming) the knower of (that which is) all, gains Me as the self of all, Bhārata (Arjuna)!

  • ESSENCE: The one whose knows Me (the Puruṣottama; the one Self in all); is the knower of all [because only One Reality is appearing as names-forms]. That one worships Me (Awareness) wholeheartedly. (IE: Because Awareness/am-ness is never not available to oneself).
      1. Have an objective relationship with matter while living (equanimity towards states-of-mind, see intrinsic value of objects).
      2. Recognize anything known to Self is kshara-akshara-upadhi which ultimately resolves in Self.
        • EG: Our experience proves this. Thought arises (kshara-upadhi) out of you (Puruṣottama) and fades away (akshara-upadhi) into you (Puruṣottama).
          • Every mithya-object resolves into Existence-Awareness (Puruṣottama sat-cit).
      3. Enjoys status of sarvavit: Knower of all (omniscience).
        • 2 Types of Omniscience:
          1. Sarvavit / sarvavittva: Knowing details of every name-form.
            • EG: Shape, size, age, decay-rate of each pot.
          2. Sarvajña (Sarvajna) / sarvajñatva (sarvajnatva): Knowing everything in general.
            • EG: The one clay that inheres in all pots.
        • In Mundaka Upanishad, Ishvara is called: sarvajñaḥ sarvavit; The one who knows that it’s truth is Purushottama, and knows details of all names-forms.
        • In this verse, sarvavit doesn’t mean knower-of-details, but knower of the content of everything is Self (Purushottama).
    • For this reason, discerning devotees wholeheartedly worship Truth/God. How? In form of knowledge that Puruṣottama is none other then “I” (Awareness). While the worn body-mind is an incidental instrument given to realize and assimilate this truth.
    • Whereas non-discerning devotees, worship the world in form of dharma, artha, kāma (all forms of Ishvara) for sake of getting immediate/future benefit.
  • Either way, the Devotee evolves by progressing through 4 stages:
    1. ārta : only thinks of Lord in times of trouble),
    2. arthārthin  : ongoing relationship with Lord for sake of getting stuff),
    3. jijñāsu : wants to know nature of this Lord to whom he/she has been praying to for so long),
    4. jñāni : Self and Lord are not-two in reference to Awareness).

Bhagavad Gita, CH15, Verse 20:

iti guhyatamam śāstram idam uktam mayā anagha ।
etat buddhvā buddhimān syāt kṛtakṛtyaḥ ca bhārata ॥ 15-20॥
Bhārata (Arjuna)! The sinless one! This most profound teaching has thus been said by Me. Knowing this, a person becomes (wise), one who has buddhi; and who has accomplished all that has to be accomplished.

  • ESSENCE: The most profound knowledge has been imparted. Knowing it, one becomes wise and fulfilled.
  • idaṃ guhyatamaṃ śāstram; the most secret teaching.
    • Schools, universities deal with kshara/akshara knowledge (material knowledge). Mundaka Upanishad calls it aparā-vidyā (inferior knowledge as it’s relative, changing and forgotten upon death).
    • Whereas brahma-vidyā (or parā-vidyā per Mundaka U. / Vedānta) is superior knowledge and the greatest open secret.
      • Open secret because unless the jiva has 4 graces coming together (Ishvara grace [which is earned by living dharmically], guru, methodology, self-effort)… then even if shown Upanishads (non-duality), the person will either (a) find no value in it (b) understand it superficially, believing they got-it.
    • Krishna says, for one who assimilates brahma-vidyā:
        • Benefit is total, unsurpassed, permanent freedom (while living). Genuine sense of relief there’s nothing else to accomplish.
        • Nothing can top brahma-vidyā because disidentifies “I” from the limited/complaining upadhi.
        • It’s the most valuable knowledge in existence, because it alone has power to free me from the samsaric-tree.
      • DEATH:
        • Then upon death (videhamukti), “I” enjoy my own limitless, infinitely-blissful nature without maya’s upadhi (5 sheaths or 3 bodies).
    • Brahma-vidya can not be discovered on one’s own because:
      • The universe is Ishvara’s. Thus one needs Ishvara’s instruction manual (Upanishads), and not manuals of individual-philosophers.
      • The jiva has had chances to liberate oneself on one’s own since beginningless time. He/she would’ve done it by now. But failed.
      • The ignorant jiva will never give up the search, unless he finds the sought. But will never find it, because jiva IS the sought. Thus requires someone to lead him/her + provide methodology.
        • This requires modest, humility & trust to be led by someone.
  • etad-buddhvā buddhimān syāt: The highest (use of) intelligence is to realize the Truth (beyond the intellect).
  • ENDS CH15: Description of samsara (tree) > Means to cut the tree > Culmination of jiva’s travels is ascertained brahma-vidya.




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

Recorded 1 March, 2022


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