Bhagavad Gītā Chapter 5: Who am I? Recognizing Ātman by Jñāna Yoga (32)


Lesson 32 shares process of recognizing Ātman (“I” – Awareness). We also see 2 major benefits of following Karma-Yoga & Jñāna Yoga being vairāgya (dispassion) and jivanmukti (Liberation).

Terms used in class:

  • bhoka: enjoyer (function of ahaṃkāra; ego). Meaning function which enjoys (also can mean doesn't enjoy) the sensory input data, or enjoys the RESULTS of the karta's actions.
  • karta: doer (function of ahaṃkāra; ego). Meaning function which takes ownership of all thoughts/emotions/actions/consequences. This is what we call the false “I” (or lower self), which due to ignorance, person identifies with without ever questioning it.
  • jīvanmukti: Liberation in present life.
  • jīvanmukta: Liberated individual (eg: One who ‘attains' jivanmukti is a jivanmukta. Thus a jivanmukta is one who is liberated while living).
  • prayojanam: Benefit which the text/teaching, as result of understanding it, will provide to the aspirant.
  • sādhana: means to __. (EG: Bus is means to final destination).
  • sambandha: end (EG: “You're hired!” is the end. While means is the prior job application.)
  • vairāgyam: without rāga (meaning without passions based on persons likes/dislikes). So we can translate to: dispassion (doesn't mean “apathy/numbness”, but seeing things as they are without adding/subtracting personal value onto them).
  • vyāvahārika: Empirical/transnational reality. Reality we all experience. EG: Sun, clouds, trees, wind, gravity, colors, etc.

  1. STAGE 1 of Jñāna-Yoga: Recognition of Ātman (Awareness as yourself):

    i) We used hand example. And asked “What do you perceive?“. Answer goes on for lifetimes talking/gossiping/crying over/being excited about the features of the hand (Object/Mithyā). Yet never acknowledge the light in whose presence the Object and it's features are illuminated by. We miss the obvious! We miss what's always present.

    For same reason we miss Self (“I” as Awareness, my Identity) which illumines every thought/emotion/conversation/doubt/epiphany from birth to death.

    The hand example explains the ongoing Satya/Mithyā relationship in our moment to moment experience. The light (illuminator) being Satya, and object illumined being Mithyā.

    Thus key to mokṣa is recognizing unceasingly that there is Ātman (Self/awareness who illuminates all experience) and anātman (Not-self/object like a thought, whether subtle as memory, or gross as a tree).

    ii) Nature of light illuminates the hand. Similarly nature of Awareness (Brahman) is to illuminate the entire creation. Light is independent of the object which it illumines.

    EG: Light continues shining when hand is removed or changes form. Similarly, “I” (Awareness) remain unchanged, perfectly pure, eternally limitless, unceasingly conscious of my existence… despite illumining the ongoing changes of my body/mind and the world which body/mind perceives… all which belong to Mithyā order of reality.

    How to prove? When mind's thought is present, are you Aware? Yes. When thought is no-more, do you cease to exist? No. You continue being Aware of not only yourself (just like any other day), but also of the fact that the thought is no-more.

    So we're talking 2 different orders of reality. Satya/Mithyā. And there is a relationship, just like there is a relationship between the different waves (compared to: people, objects, universe) and the same H2O Water (compared to: Brahman), which all waves of the entire Ocean (compared to Existence) inhere.

    Thus all that is here is ONE without a second. One H2O. One clay.

    iii) Light (Awareness) as though appears to move when the hand (object) moves. But actually it's only the hand (object) that moves. Thus the hand is karta/bhokta. And whatever is karta/bhokta is also accumulating pāpa (demerit/negative) and puṇya (merit/positive) karma.

    Meaning Awareness (Satya) is NOT the doer/enjoyer. This will be discussed in more depth in session 33.

  2. STAGE 2 of Jñāna-Yoga: Learn to IDENTIFY with Consciousness as Myself. This will be discussed in more depth in session 33.
  3. Benefits of following 2 sādhana's (Karma Yoga & Jñāna Yoga)

    Spiritual Values:

    vairāgyam: Without rāga (dispassion). (Gradually dropping external psychological dependences)

    Understanding limitation of depending on external factors for happiness. EG: Whether/government/family members not under MY control.

    Physical dependence (food) we can't avoid, so it's fine.

    But dependence  on psychological factor is sorrow. Called: saṃsāra.

    Problem is with US and not WORLD.

    “You are problem. You are solution.” – Swami Dayananda Saraswati

    So a CORRECTION is required on your part: Go from dependence on external objects to independence (knowing the limitation of external objects which doesn't exclude your own body/mind condition).

    Don't think of external as “outside envelope of my body”. This is flaw in logic. Because your body-mind is also “external”, it's also part of vyāvahārika reality. It's also another changing object known to you; Awareness.

    Instruction: Learn to depend on yourself (Ātman; Awareness) and not the ego-wanting self – for peace and security. “Object around, wonderful! Not around, wonderful!”. This is FREEDOM!

    Just make sure the independence is NOT a pretending independence, because that's ego (karta/bhokta) motivated action. The independence comes from UNDERSTANDING that you-Awareness are already free (knowledge gained in classes). Honesty. Honesty. Honesty.

    Benefit of Self-Knowledge:

    Jīvanmukti: Inner freedom, here and now.

    This is not outer freedom, because have to follow society rules like anyone else.

    How long a jivanmukta's body lives? Until prārabdha is over. Just like for anyone else. Because body is vyāvahārika reality (Īśvara's creation, thus is controlled by orders/laws of Īśvara).

    Jīvanmukta doesn't say “I will continue until my prārabdha is over“. Because a jīvanmukta identifies with Ātman (eternal Awareness).

    Upon death, jīvanmukta is ONE with Brahman, without individually. Called: videhamukti. Kṛṣṇa in CH5 calls this: Brahma-nirvānam (Oneness with Brahman).

Recorded 15 Jan, 2019


  1. Hi Andre ,

    How could I focus from changing to unchanging which is atman!!
    For e.g I like sex and am aware that body like sex and enjoy it now how could focus from changing to unchanging ?
    do I stop doing sex ? But I know it make me happy? Please explain.. I am confused focusing on unchanging ? What does this mean ?

    1. That’s what the whole program is for. Needs to be undertaken in order. No skipping. At least start from CH7 at

      All the way to CH18. After seen at least 30 videos in order, then ask based on the new understandings.

  2. Hi Andre You have explained all chapter very well !! I am totally impressive , please become my Guru and clear my doubts!!Yes I have listen all video starting from till chapter 32 .. am planning to watch it again all to understand more .Today I had watch video 32 , I totally understand that we are not body mind and intellect and we are completely awareness who known to all objects (body /thoughts ) still not clear about focus on unchanging!! I believe people will go where he found happiness like mostly people found happiness in liquor or sex !! I know it’s temporary but it’s gives happiness!! I know until we attach with material world we keep taking birth .. but does that mean we should not do sex or drink and fully liberated from worldly objects

    1. Dear Tarun. It’s unwise to suddenly cut all ties with things which have given us satisfaction for long time. Whether it’s computer games, sex, liquor, etc. In reality, cutting ties only agitates the mind even more. And mind will find something else to satisfy itself anyway.

      Basically, continue as wish with whatever is currently giving contentment. While continue to immerse yourself in this knowledge. And slowly-slowly, the relationship towards all things will take a different tone.

      Advaita does not deny the needs of physical body. It doesn’t say “no sex, no this, no that”. It over-time, slowly shifts identity to Self (which is already full and complete). More that happens, the less one has need to engage in other things. Or one can still engage in other things, but with a much cleaner intention.

  3. Sir,Thanks for your response!!
    But how self is full and complete!!
    We have to do lot things for survival in this material world!! We keep study to get job and then married for companionship! And make more money for kids education.. I believe self is complete when we adopt sanyasa ashram not with householder ashram!! As education cost is so high which does not make self complete and full .

    1. Dear Tarun. Your view of sannaya advantage over householder would hold up strongly in Vedic times, or even 200 years ago when life was much harder. Today, life is easier. We can easily go to library or park for quiet time. Or dedicate hour or two in our room.

      What’s more, householder in many ways is BETTER then sannyasa. Householder gives context or relevance to the teaching. Living alone, in more cases then not, it remains merely intellectual as it’s not applied in the workforce, spouse, friends.

      In short, sannyasi has no better/worse advantage then householder. It’s about how dedicated you are. A sannyasi has excess time on their hands, thus mind can easily wonder. Whereas householder can’t afford to waste free pockets of time, making them more productive and serious.

  4. Hi Andre,

    Neuroscientists say that matter creates consciousness. It’s called materialistic reductionism. However, Vedanta insists that consciousness is independent of matter. Does Vedanta speak of matter as a product of consciousness? Does the deceleration of consciousness lead to the production of matter? We can argue that matter is substrate-dependent. That matter is composed of molecules. Molecules are composed of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons, electrons. And these are made of quarks. Quarks are made of super strings, etc. I hope that one day scientists will break the super strings into smaller particles. Matter is dissected (almost dissappearing) even from the scientific point of view.

    I guess consciousness makes Super Strings, but is that something Vedanta talks about? Thank you for your answer.

    1. Hi Nicholas. This is a common question and debate as you likely know.

      Science can take us up to strings or smaller in the future. However what science can’t explain or doesn’t address is Intelligence that’s assembling specific amount of quarks, neutrons/protons, atoms, molecules… in order to create a functional form at each level… which then has a relationship to another form.

      For example:

      2H & 1O = water. If it’s 3H, then it’s not water. If it’s 2O, then it’s not water.

      Then 1 Sodium + 1 Chlorine = Sodium Chloride.

      Then combine Water & Sodium Chloride, and that makes Salt.

      Salt further plays crucial role in ecosystem. Body needs salt.

      Then nature further creates a salt purification system, by evaporating the water into the clouds by the sun, leaving the salt behind, and falling into rivers. The rivers supply pure water for fish and wildlife.

      Meaning, whatever knows about the water, must also know about the salt, must also know about sun, clouds, purification, wildlife. That’s the only way the whole thing can have a relationship to each other – by being in presence of intelligence which knows about it all at once.

      And intelligence can’t put things together unless it’s in the presence of a conscious being. A genius in a coma is of no use. Only when his intelligence is blessed by consciousness is he able to create, sustain and change his own world.

      Similarly, the total intelligence that’s manifesting as atoms, has no existence apart from Consciousness.

      In short: Before we even mention the word “consciousness”, we need to first understand the universe of forms is nothing but manifestation of intelligence appearing as forms. Only then the word “Consciousness” can be understood for what it really is.

      However science hasn’t even begun to address Intelligence that puts the particles together. Yet they’re talking about Consciousness. Consciousness without Intelligence (God in English) can never be understood.

      This is the short of it. Much more explained in this course.

      Let me know your thoughts, if any.

  5. Thank you Andre for your answer. During this course, I suppose you will explain that consciousness is responsible for the creation of the 5 elements and perhaps their permutations and combinations have resulted in matter.

    Yes, science doesn’t talk about intelligence.

    When you write “Likewise, the total intelligence that manifests itself in the form of atoms has no existence outside of Consciousness,” answers my question.

    1. Correct, during the course, model of creation is discussed multiple times. General order given is: Consciousness > enjoys capacity to manifest and this capacity is in form of intelligence > 5 elements manifested > universe of forms as we see.

      Science can take us up to time-space. However need different kind of “science book” to discover that which is prior to time-space, which is where Vedanta takes over.

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