Samsara, Human Samskaras & Uninvolved Witness (73)


Lesson 73 provides analogies to help define the undefinable Awareness (sakshi chaitanya; witness consciousness). Then we see the EXACT cause of human nature. If all is God, then is criminal also God? Finally we analyze how abuse of 3 inherent shakti's (powers) leads to samsara (suffering-enjoyment and rebirth).

Source: Bhagavad Gita, CH9 – verse 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 10:

mayā'dhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram |
hetunā'nena kaunteya jagadviparivartate

Because of Me, the presiding-illuminating-consciousness principle, who witnesses My prakṛti, expressed as mobile/immobile matter – the universe revolves.

  • In presence of air: fire can burn. Rose can smell. Bird can fly.
    • Similarly Krishna says: In presence of Me, things/beings CAN perform their respective function, according to their nature. What dictates nature of things/begins? Guṇa composition or saṃskārās.
  • mayā adhyakṣeṇa: because of Me (higher nature, parā-prakṛti, formless consciousness), which is the presiding principle…
    • EG 1 (presiding principle):
      • Example: Without light in the room, saint can’t aim for head to bless. Neither can thief aim for wallet.
        • In presence of light, saint can bless. Sinner can hurt. But light does NOT influence type of actions each does.
        • Meaning: Because of ONE light presiding over (or illuminating) all objects in the room, the light helps the illuminated… PERFORM various functions (according to objects nature).
        • Furthermore, none of actions in room taint the light. Light is same despite sinner/saint’s presence.
      • Vidyāranyā in Pañcadaśī says: Īśvara is like light. Doesn’t play any role in transactions. But presence of light is required for entities to engage in world.
      • In other words, “Me” is called: sākṣī bhāva (uninvolved witness. Parā-prakṛti).
    • EG 2 (presiding principle):
      • In presence of electricity, every gadget can perform it’s function. Electricity does not REQUEST anything. Only blesses the gadget to express it’s nature (innate quality).
        • When One SAME electricity blesses fan’s nature, it rotates. Bulb’s nature, shines.
      • Meaning gadget function is NOT determined by electricity. Hence electricity is value-natural cause.
    • Applying to human mind…
      • While blessed by Consciousness, nature of sāttvic mind is expressed as HOLY thoughts.
      • While blessed by Consciousness, nature of rājasic/tāmasic mind is expressed as passionate/dynamic OR hurtful/criminal actions.
  • Thus can’t blame Īśvara for anything. Because God simply blesses OR lights up OR enlivens the mind instrument. Then mind acts according to it’s innate qualities.
  • Putting this together: because of Me, the presiding-illuminating-consciousness principle, who witnesses My prakṛti, expressed as mobile/immobile matter – the universe revolves.
  • Takeaway:
    • Īśvara doesn’t determine nature of thought nor action of each individual. Īśvara only enlivens each mind to re-present it’s nature, for sake of exhausting puṇya/pāpa.
    • Brahman satyam, jagat mithyā (appearances). Essence of Vedanta.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 11:

avajānanti māṃ mūḍhā mānuṣīṃ tanumāśritam |
parāṃ bhāvamajānanto mama bhūtamaheśvaram

Not knowing My higher nature as the great Lord of all beings, (those) deluded ones look down upon Me who have taken a human form.

    • In previous V10, Krishna concludes Īśvara svarūpam, and highlights: Īśvara is akartā/abhoktā.
      • Meaning we can’t blame Lord for our problems. Nothing happens according to His plan, will, wish. Because Īśvara is a non-interfering presence.
    • Why do we suffer? Because of our fate dictated by past pāpa-karma. Cause-effect.
      • I believe I was kartā in past, now I am bhoktā in present.
    • What is consequence of ignorance of cause-effect (doer/enjoyer) relationship? Believer in God becomes non-believer when suffering. “Lord hasn’t answered my prayers. Pūjā is waste of time!”.
    • Does prayer produce puṇyam? Only if follow-up by corresponding ACTIONS.
      • However if past pāpam greater, then punyam won’t override.
        • EG: Prayer after bank robbery yields no results.
        • Most don’t know this, thus blame God when prayer not answered.
  • Verse 11 changes topic to saṃsāra kāraṇam (cause of human problems/suffering). MAIN reason being:
    • False expectation: Expecting permanence from impermanent world. EG: Causes relationship insecurity. Expecting pūrṇatvam / ānanda from finite mithyā.
  • But if seeking permanent security, where to focus? Higher/formless nature of Īśvara. Only problem: jīva’s mind can’t discriminate nityam/anityam; hence suffers.
    • Bhaja Govindam V1: Oh foolish mind. Learnings of Sanskrit grammar will not help in last moments of life.
  • Krishna backs up with: ajānantaḥ mūḍhāḥ mama paraṃ bhāvam: They don’t know my Higher nature, nirguṇa svarūpam / parā-prakṛti / caitanya tatvam.
  • Why don’t know Higher?
    • Born ignorant of both higher & lower nature. EG: English, walking, counting, etc.
    • Meaning we don’t acquire ignorance, but come prepackaged ignorant. Then entire life is about REMOVING ignorance of lower. Only to die and repeat.
  • Why ignorance of Higher continues throughout lifetimes? Because never attempted to remove. Noone ever told us, including past parents. If someone knew, we couldn’t recognize.
    • ONLY way to remove? Gain jñānam of nirguṇa by means of śravaṇam, mananam, nididhyāsanam.
  • Why else suffering? mānuṣīṃ tanumāśritam: Saṃsāri ignores jñāna-kāṇḍa portion (remaining brahman-ajñāni). Resorting to personal God (Savior).
    • In other words, he/she never gets to section in scriptures which says: Real Īśvara is avyaktam (formless, beyond sense perception, Glory 1).
  • Adi Shankara mentions in Parāpūja stotram (Formless or highest possible kind of worship):
    • Inviting Lord into idol? Indicating Lord is in His abode, and not here.
    • Giving a small āsanam (seat) for Lord. But Lord is āsanam on which whole universe is seated.
    • Washing Lord’s hands, feet, head? Is Lord dirty? How can wash formless Lord? (nitya śuddha)
    • Message: Begin with personal saguṇa Īśvara, but don’t end there. Should culminate to impersonal nirguṇa.
      • Aparā-prakṛti > parā-prakṛti.  Acetana > cetana.

    • About Para Puja Stotram:
      • This Puja is the highest kind of worship. Para Puja Stotra is the worship of the Jnanis. This is the effect of Realization of the Self. The devotee feels that he can do nothing but only experience God. He says: O Lord! How can I worship Thee who is without parts, who is Existence itself? How can I pray to Thee when Thou art my very being itself? How can I offer Arghya, Padya etc. to Thee when Thou art ever pure? How can I offer anything to Thee when Thou art ever an Apta-Kama? Can I wave a candle to the Sun and can I bathe the ocean with a glass of water? How can I offer Bhoga to Thee when Thou art self-contented? And in this way the devotee feels the Infinite Nature of God.
    • ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF SANSKRIT TEXT ABOVE OF PARA PUJA BY ADI SHANKARA: When the indivisible, eternally blissful, free from transition or change, and induplicate gets stationary (or understood) in mind, then tell me how can I do the prayers!||1||What should be to used to invoke the complete and what should be used as a seat for the One Who is the supreme pillar of existence? Where is the way to clean the feet of the spotless and where is the way to purify the pure.||2||Of what use is a sacred thread to One Who has no caste or creed? What is the use of fragrance for the One Who cannot be applied and hat is the use of garland for someone Who cannot wear?||3||

      What is the use of jewellery for One without discrimination and What will be an adoration for the formless?||4||

      What will a dispassionate One, Who is omnipresent, do with dhūpa and dīpa? And of what use will be savory sweet for that Who is satisfied in One's own bliss.||5||

      What is the point in offering tāmbūla to the Father of the bliss of the world, Who is self-luminous, Who is the universal spirit, and Who shines forth the sun, the moon and others.||6||

      How is circumambulation of the infinite, Who is induplicable, possible? How do we eulogize an entity Who is beyond the scope of the sentences of the Veda.||7||

      How do we offer light to the resplendent self-luminous One? And how do we dress someone Who is complete in every way?||8||

      This is the only Parāpūjā that should be kept without doubt, in every age, by those who know the Brahma.||9||

      O Śambhu! You are my Ātman, Girijā is my mind, Your accompaniments are my life-forces, Your body is my residence. My various enjoyment and constructions be Your prayer. My sleep be the state of meditation. My walking be Your circumambulation and my spoken words be Your eulogies. And whatever I do, that all may be Your adoration.||10||

      Poet: Ādi Śańkara
      Source: Stotraratnāvalī — Gitapress

  • Message of Verse 11: Ignorant people don’t know My Higher, thus are degrading/disrespecting Me, in name of glorification (both personal God and objects).
    • Accordingly they suffer because other then nirguṇa is saguṇa (fluctuating matter). Causing fear of loss, holding-on.
  • SUMMARY: What is cause of saṃsāra (mixture of joys/sorrows)? Ignorance of Higher nature, because Higher is beyond time/space, and only available in sacred texts, which few are interested in.
  • NEXT VERSE: Consequences of ignoring śāstra (state of majority of world).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 12:

moghāśā moghakarmāṇo moghajñānā vicetasaḥ |
rākṣasīmāsurīṃ caiva prakṛtiṃ mohinīṃ śritāḥ ||

(These) indiscriminate ones are full of vain hopes, vain pursuits, vain knowledge. They take to rajasic and tamasic nature which deludes them.

  • V12-19 Krishna mentions how various types of people handle saṃsāra (joy/sorrow mixture).
  • What SHOULD happen if properly diagnosed saṃsāra (EG: This too won’t last) by means of vairāgyam/viveka: World dependence > God dependence > Self-dependence
  • Krishna says, most don’t ANALYZE their experience in light of śāstra. Thus don’t see world of perishable matter being a potential SUSPECT.
    • And how do such non-analyzing people manage ongoing disappointments? When one perishable/finite object leaves, they switch over to another perishable/finite object.
      • EG: “ANOTHER” partner, shopping, movie, travel.
      • In short: I don’t know what I want in life. Why? Unclear thinking. What brings clarity? Scriptures.
  • What is process of getting trapped by saṃsāra? Abuse of 3 śakti’s: jñāna, icchā, kriyā (Know > Desire > Action)
    • Stage 1 (jñāna śakti): Knowledge gained about RESULT/BENEFIT of value-neutral object.
    • Stage 2 (icchā śakti): Can we desire an object we have no knowledge of?
      • Meaning after stage 1, VALUE for object develops and desire sparks.
    • Stage 3 (kriyā śakti): Strong desire compels actions.
    • Meaning if Stage 1 is misinformed: Leads to inappropriate icchā śakti > abuse kriya śakti > generates pāpam karma > produces suffering.
    • In fact in Kaṭha Upaniṣad, body COMPARED to chariot.
      • 5 sense organs = 5 horses.
      • Mind = reins.
      • Intellect = driver.
      • If driver misinformed (mogha-jñānāḥ; vain knowledge that eternal security lies in people/position/money) > wrong DESIRE > wrong EFFORT (mogha-karmāṇaḥ; vain pursuits) > OUTCOME.
      • Misinformed driver leads to intellectual arrogance as Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (CH1,Section2,Verse8) says: Neither do they know, nor will they take the help of the scriptures. Why? Intellectual arrogance.
  • What leads to mogha-jñānāḥ (vain knowledge) / abuse of jñāna-śakti? Vicetasaḥ, not practicing analysis/viveka.
    • Leading to: Seeking permanent in the impermanent. EG: Seeking permanent security/happiness in people.
  • Finally, 2nd line (rākṣasīm āsurīṁ caiva prakṛtiṁ mōhinīṁ śritāḥ), actions are either rākṣasīm (rāga) – born of attachment. OR āsurīṁ (dveṣa) – born of fear/inadequacy/hatred.
    • Rāga (unguided attractions in name of personal fancies and not universal harmony) leads to > illegal methods (unable to earn to satisfy MORE) > greed/competition > immoral actions.
      • EG: Enron corporate scandal.
      • This deludes them (mohinīm) and intellect justifies unethical behavior. How criminal actions are born.
  • CONCLUSION: Rāga (unguided desire) is like wind. Friend when need small fire. Enemy when fire is a conflagration.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 13:

mahātmānastu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtimāśritāḥ |
bhajantyananyamanaso jñātvā bhūtādimavyayam ||

O Arjuna! having taken to Sātvic nature, and having known (Me to be) the imperishable cause of all human beings, the noble souls, on the other hand, worship Me with an undistracted Mind.

  • While majority are misguided and groping in saṃsāra (getting more of same)… the few are born in cultured family with dharmic values prominent with the household.
    • Consequentially, daivīṁ prakṛti-māśritāḥ, they cultivate a sattvic mind because of dharma/śāstra.
    • Krishna calls such types, mahātmānaḥ (great people), because of consistent practice of nitya-anitya viveka.
      • Thought process: World is transient. God alone is permanent.
      • Viveka is developed because of (1) grace of Lord, by means of following dharma/duty, and (2) sattva guṇa (by means of self-effort).
    • Comparison:
      • mahātmānaḥ (V13): Sattvic mind.
      • rākṣasīm (V12): Rājasic mind.
      • āsurīṁ (V12): Tāmasic mind.
  • What is consequence to maintaining Sattvic mind (simple lifestyle/viveka)? Mahātmānaḥ realizes:
    • Īśvara is bhūtādim, “The ultimate cause of all beings”. Beginningless (anādi).
    • Īśvara is avyayam, without exhaustion, undecaying, unlimited (ananta).
    • Both anādi and ananta make up ānanda (of sat-cit)
    • Meaning mahātmānaḥ understands: “I can use beautiful cardboard chair (world) for everything, EXCEPT sitting on it for anādi/anantaḥ”.
  • Knowing this, jñātva avyayaṃ bhūtādim bhajanti, they start focusing on Higher nature / parā-prakṛti.
    • Parā: superior, pure, spiritual | Prakṛti: innate essence
  • How does a mahātmānaḥ contemplate on Higher nature? ananyamanasaḥ, without distraction.
    • Meaning irrespective of āśrama (stage of life), they pursue Higher.
    • Even married life is an āśrama. According to scriptures, meant for ONE SINGLE reason: citta śuddhi (purifying mind > dharma > mokṣa). Artha / kāma is incidental.
  • NEXT VERSE: How specifically do they pursue Higher…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 14:

satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaśca dṛḍhavratāḥ |
namasyantaśca māṁ bhaktyā nityayuktā upāsate ||

Constantly praising me, striving with a firm resolve, and surrendering to Me with devotion, (these) ever-steadfast ones worship Me.

  • How does a mahātmānāḥ (noble soul), pursue Īśvara? yatantaḥ dṛḍhavratāḥ, with a FIRM resolve.
    • “I want to attain Īśvara or mokṣa”.
  • Accordingly, satataṃ kīrtayantaḥ mām, they speak of Me as the PRIMARY goal in life, often as possible.
    • They associate with mumukṣu, because friends influence your personality.
  • Moreover, they discover the most challenging reality: Persistent practice of viveka/vairāgyam is not easy.
    • Solution? Start today. Don't delay. Else stray!
    • Start karma-yoga now. Start upāsana now. Start acquiring ethical values now.
  • Furthermore, namasyantaśca māṁ bhaktyā nityayuktā upāsatē, with devotion, the steadfast ones worship Me. Because mere self-effort is insufficient. Why?…
    • Many unknown/hidden obstacles.
      • EG: Childhood trauma, I’m not smart enough for this (self-esteem), ahaṅkāra sabotaging, demanding family duties, loss of job, unwilling to trust any living ācārya – only trusts dead gurus.
    • Knowing this, they constantly surrender to Lord, irrespective of Self-Knowledge.
  • IN SUMMARY: How to live according to śāstra? Two principles:
    • (1) Acquire self-knowledge through self-effort: śravaṇam, mananam, nididhyāsanam.
    • (2) Nurture Īśvara anugraḥ (God’s grace / devotion / bhakti).
      • How? Abiding in dharmic principles: humility, honesty, respecting all.
      • With #1 and without #2: Arrogant aparokṣa-jñānam puruṣa. EG: “I am beyond this world. I know more then this teacher.”
    • In other words, all 5 kośās (annamaya, prāṇamaya, manomaya, vijñānamaya, ānadamaya) exist for ONE PURPOSE only: mokṣa. (Dharma/artha/kāma is incidental).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 15:

jñānayajñena cāpyanye yajanto māmupāsate |
ekatvena pṛthaktvena bahudhā viśvatomukham ||

Worshipping through jñāna-yajñā, some others think of ME. (They worship Me) in many ways — as different (from themselves), as identical (with themselves), or as the multifaceted one.

  • Speaks of those whose MAIN goal is already Īśvara. Shows HOW understanding/appreciation of God gradually evolves in 3 stages:
  • STAGE 1: eka rūpa Īśvara (one form only, personal God)
    • Generally everyone starts thinking there is one PARTICULAR God, who is creator of world.
      • He is over there creating OR sending his creations down here.
      • Śāstric language: Īśvara is sarva-jñānam nimitta kāraṇam (intelligent cause), who intelligently creates the world, just like carpenter > furniture OR weaver > fabric.
    • Believer visualizes Īśvara as personalized FORM who is omniscient. EG: Viṣṇu, Christ, Śiva (for Śiva bhakta).
    • Summary: He is THERE at some place/time. I am HERE.
  • STAGE 2: aneka rūpa Īśvara (more then one)
    • Śāstra later says: If Bhagavān is a person (Stage 1), then He is spatially limited (not present everywhere).
    • Then śāstra CORRECTS: Īśvara does NOT create the world, but evolves into the world/universe, as multifaceted forms.
      • Just how Ocean constantly evolves into a sea of multifaceted waves.
      • Also called: viśva rūpa Īśvara: Īśvara as the universe
    • Śāstric metaphor for Stage 2: Earth is feet of Lord, sky is His body, and heaven is His head.
    • Summary: Where is God? Counter-ask: Where is God not?
  • STAGE 3: arūpa Īśvara (formless)
    • Doubt arises from Stage 2. If everything is Īśvara, then He is also in the criminal. He can’t be just the positive, but also negative.
      • Just like ocean excludes NEITHER high-dangerous waves, nor humble-low waves.
    • Śāstra answers: Īśvara does not evolve into creation. But APPEARS as the creation.
      • Just like rope never becomes the snake. Only appears as snake owning to jīva’s ignorance of the rope.
        • Ocean/waves are superimposition on the H2O.
      • Summary: Īśvara is free of appearances of the world (param bhāvam).
  • Example from real world showing stages in action:
    • Swami Chinmayananda built an āśrama in Mumbai in 1963. Placed Śiva as main deity.
    • Hari Krishna people criticized: He got rich in Krishna’s name teaching Gītā. Yet built Śiva temple. Krishna will punish him!
      • Don’t even approve Rāma, even both Krishna/Rāma are avatāra of Lord Viṣṇu.
    • Point of Verse 15: ALL 3 types are worshipping Īśvara. But need to OUTGROW immaturity of Stage 1, arrogance of Stage 2 (nothing more to know), and come to Stage 3.


Keywords: abhokta, akarta, anadi, ananda, ananyamanasa, apara prakriti, asurim, bhava, bhokta, bhutadim, dvesa dvesha, guna, gunas, iccha, jnana, kama, karanam, karta, katha, kriya, Mahatmana, mithya, mogha jnanah, mogha karmanah, moksa moksha, nididhyasana, nirguna svarupa, pancadasi, panchadasi, papa, papa-karma, para prakriti, parapuja, prakrti, punya, purnatvam, raga, raksasim, rakshasim, sakshi, saksi, sakshi chaitanya, samskaras, sastra shastra, sattvic, shuddha, shuddi, sravana shravana, suddha, tamasic, upanisad, upanishad, vairagyam, Vidyaranya


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 5 Nov, 2019


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