Isvara Glories: Brahma Vidya, Karma, Letter ‘अ', Ganga, Prahlada, Samvada (85)


Lesson 85 glories focus on stories and symbolism. Like space-time, wind, self-knowledge, karma phalam, mind, significance of letter अ.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10: Verse 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.


  • This whole manifestation (perceived/not-perceived, known/unknown) is saguṇa īśvara.
    • And saguṇa is mithyā. Mithyā means dependent-reality.
      • Dependent on what? Nirguṇa īśvara.
        • EG: All gold ornaments (mithyā), which we glorify, speak about, worship – all have their existence in the ONE gold (satyam).
        • Meaning worshipping vibhūtis does not contradict your understanding of Oneness.
    • Since saguṇa has it’s existence in nirguṇa, Krishna enumerates saguṇa vibhūtis, we can turn into objects of our meditation.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 28:

āyudhānāmahaṃ vajraṃ dhenūnāmasmi kāmadhuk |
prajanaścāsmi kandarpaḥ sarpāṇāmasmi vāsukiḥ ||

I am (Indra’s) thunderbolt among weapons; I am Kamadhenu among cows; I am the productive passion and I am Vasuki among the serpents.


  • ahaṃ vajram āyudhānām: Among weapons, I am Vajra, which comes from great maharṣi-Dadhīci.
    • Most powerful weapon in existence, belongs to Indra.
    • Purāṇa story:
      • Vṛtrāsura (rākṣasa) had a boon. No weapon could kill him.
      • He fought Indra. Indra lost and fled the scene, leaving behind his elephant Airāvata.
      • Indra goes to Lord Śaṅkara (V23) for help.
      • Śaṅkara & Brahmāji go to Viṣṇu for help.
      • Viṣṇu advises Indra to befriend Vṛtrāsura and kill when off guard.
      • To do this, Indra noticed (on earth) maharṣi Dadhīci, who did plenty tapas, through sādhana.
      • Indra prayed to Dadhīci to donate his spinal cord, from which Vajra-weapon can be made.
      • Dadhīci agreed to sacrifice his life by donating his spinal cord.
      • Indra used Vajra-weapon to kill Vṛtrāsura.
      • Moral: Vajra-weapon is made of tapas (mental strength). It is superior to Vṛtrāsura (material strength).
        • EG: Ghandi’s ahmisa (spiritual principle) was able to overshadow (in time) the material strength of British dominance over Indian land.
  • Dhenūnām kāmadhuk asmi: Among milk-giving cows, I am Kāmadhenu-cow (also emerged from churning of milky ocean) – which gives anything asked.
    • Symbolism:
      • Mind = Kāmadhenu.
      • It can give anything you ask, through concentration and persistence.
      • All human achievements came from mind.
      • Even mokṣa is possible through human-mind only.
    • Story:
      • King Viśvāmitra travelled with soldiers, through forest.
      • Encountered small hut of sage Vasiṣṭha.
      • Vasiṣṭha was able to feed all soldiers through Kāmadhenu-cow.
      • King Viśvāmitra wanted to take Kāmadhenu-cow.
      • Vasiṣṭha said, cow only yields to brāhmaṇa.
      • King Viśvāmitra vowed to become brāhmaṇa.
        • Despite this, cow yielded nothing. Because he still had dominant raja-guṇa (greed, jealousy).
      • So King Viśvāmitra understood that he had to give up everything. And became a maharṣi.
  • Prajanaḥ ca asmi kandarpaḥ: I am Kandarpa, the God of love. I am the life-giving passion, cause of progeny.
    • Meaning parents are not cause of progeny, but Kandarpa (God of love – cause of passion to produce a child).
  • Sarpāṇām vāsukiḥ asmi: Among the poisonous snakes I am Vāsuki.
    • Who is Vāsuki?
      • Vāsuki is snake wrapped around Mount Mandara, during churning of milky ocean.
      • Vāsuki is source of great fear.
      • That poison is Me (Bhagavān). Because nothing is separate from Me.
    • Symbolism:
      • Vāsuki represents aham kāra > Leads to kartā/bhoktā > Leads to saṃsāra (fearful).
      • Vāsuki is ornament of Lord Śiva. Meaning He knows how to handle the snake.
      • Similarly through ātma-jñānam, we learn to handle aham kāra.
      • Accordingly, as poisonous snake is ornament of Śiva, poisonous aham kāra is ornament of jñāni.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 29:

anantaścāsmi nāgānāṃ varuṇo yādasāmaham |
pitṝṇāmaryamā cāsmi yamaḥ saṃyamatāmaham ||

I am anantaḥ among the snakes; I am varuṇaḥ among the waterdeities; I am Aryamā among the ancestors and I am yamaḥ among the controllers.


  • Nāgānām anantaḥ ca asmi: According to purāṇas, there are one-headed and many-headed snakes. I am Ananta among the many-headed snakes (nāgānām).
    • Why snake repeated?
      • V28 poisonous snake. V29 non-poisonous.
    • Ananta (also called Ādiśeṣa), 1000-headed snake is associated to Lord Viṣṇu. Who uses snake as bed.
      • Why? Because snake is like a spring-mattress, cool and soft.
      • Symbolism:
        • Ananta-snake = nirguṇa brahman.
        • Viṣṇu = saguṇa īśvara.
        • Thus, Īśvara is resting in it’s svarūpa of Ananta (infinite, endless-snake).
  • ahaṃ varuṇaḥ yādasām: Among presiding deities of rivers like Gaṅgā, Yamunā – I am Varuṇa.
    • Every body of water has a devata. EG: River/lake/ocean/cloud/tear devata.
    • Among all, I am Varuṇa devata, presiding over ocean. Lord of “total body of water”.
    • Also Bhagavān’s vibhūti.
  • asmi aryamā pitṝṇām: I am Aryamā among the ancestors.
    • People who live religious life (with suffice puṇya), but don’t perform vaidika rituals (eg: agniṣṭoma), go to pitṛ-loka.
      • Pitṛ-loka ruled by pitṛ-devatās.
      • Head of pitṛ-devatās is: Aryamā.
    • Meaning:
      • Just how bhūḥ-loka (earth) is divided into colonies, according to puṇya/pāpa.
        • EG: Born in disease ridden African village, VS. family of Queen-Elizabeth.
      • In same way, 14 lokās are divided into colonies, depending on puṇya/pāpa.
    • Purāṇa-Vedic deities:
      • Aryamā, Varuṇa, Indra = Vedic deities.
      • Gradually purāṇic deities overshadowed Vedic over time.
        • Why? Vedas require suprior intellect. Purāṇas are most appealing to unqualified intellects. For example, classical music (appreciated by more sophisticated intellects) was overshadowed over time by dance/trance music (which requires little to no intellectual comprehension).
  • ca ahaṃ yamaḥ saṃyamatām: Among all who enforce law or discipline for dharma sake (eg: police) – I am Lord Yama, who enforces discipline.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 30:

prahlādaścāsmi daityānāṃ kālaḥ kalayatāmaham |
mṛgāṇāṃ ca mṛgendro'haṃ vainateyaśca pakṣiṇām ||

I am prahlādaḥ among the daityās, I am time among the reckonners or computers; I am the lion among animals and Garuda among birds.


  • asmi ca prahlādaḥ daityānām: I am Prahlāda among the asuras who are born of Diti.
    • Brahmāji through His saṅkalpa, created 14 mānasaputras (sons born of mind). (L80)
      • Yes, some texts vary: 7, 10, 14, or 21.
    • Among 14, Kaśyapa is most prominent.
      • Kaśyapa, had 2 wives:
        • Diti:
          • Raja-guṇa
          • Children called: Asurās.
            • Represent: unhealthy mind thoughts. Disempowering perspective.
        • Aditi:
          • Sattva-guṇa
          • Children called: Devās.
            • Represent: positive healthy Mind thoughts. Empowering perspective.
      • Symbolism:
        • 1 father, 2 wives.
        • Meaning, ONE mind can have TWO kind’s of vṛtti’s – depending on HOW it’s used.
    • Who is Prahlāda?
      • Descendant of Diti’s Born in Asura family.
      • Became bhakta of Lord Nārāyaṇa.
        • Repeated Lord’s name, despite his father’s hate towards Lord.
        • Father is King Hiraṇyakaśipu. (Not Kaśyapa who can be considered great grandfather).
      • King Hiraṇyakaśipu ordered he alone is to be worshipped as Lord. Can only say “Hiraṇyāya namaḥ”.
      • But Prahlāda “Om namo nārāyaṇāya”.
      • One day:
        • Father asked, “Where is Nārāyaṇa?”.
        • Prahlāda: Everywhere.
        • Father: In this pillar?
        • Prahlāda: Yes.
        • Hiraṇyakaśipu kicked the pillar.
          • Earlier, he also secured a boon of immortality. Meaning…
            • Can’t be killed by human.
            • Neither in day/night.
            • Neither inside/outside house.
            • Can’t touch ground when killed.
        • When pillar broke, Lord Viṣṇu came (as Narasiṁha).
          • Lion’s head. Human’s body.
          • Came at twilight.
          • Sat between inside/outside house.
          • Placed Hiraṇyakaśipu on lap & killed.
          • Enthroned Prahlāda as great bhakta.
    • Moral:
      • Varṇa (caste-system) does not define person.
        • Thus never judge which country/race/background person is from.
      • What defines a person (or) makes them GREAT?
        • Focusing on right choice of karma & attitude. EG:
          • Rāvaṇa was born brāhmaṇa > became rākṣasa.
          • Sage Droṇa born brāhmaṇa > kṣatriya.
  • Aham kālaḥ kalayatām: I am time, that’s ticking away constantly. Which nothing escapes from.
    • Kalayatām means: Among the one who keeps account.
      • Keep account of what? Of ripening everyone’s sañcita, prārabdha, āgāmi karmās – in appropriate time.
        • Includes every jīvā, including human, plant, animals, insects.
      • When is new karma generated? (kept into account)
        • Upon deliberate actions.
        • Doesn’t include accidental stepping on insects.
        • What about deliberately cutting grass? Should do atonement afterwards (prayaścitta-karma).
      • For this reason, Īśvara is: Dharma rāja.
        • King of ordaining “karma phalam” according to Karma (justice).
        • Thus, Bhagavān says: I am responsible for manifestation of every karma.
    • Means everything in jagat only exists because it has puṇya/pāpa karma to exhaust. EG:
      • Bored with class? Exhausting pāpa. Enjoying class? Exhausting puṇya.
      • If you are sick, and family member is taking care of you, then:
        • For you (sick patient who needs help): puṇya.
        • For them (who has to keep awake for your sake): pāpa.
      • Thus, appreciate the magnitude of Bhagavān’s intelligence (nimitta-kāraṇam).
  • Aham ca mṛgendraḥ: Among the wild animals, I am the lion.
    • Lion not afraid of any animal.
      • Wary of elephant, but relatively fearless.
    • That fearlessness in kingdom of animals, is Me.
  • mṛgāṇām vainateyaḥ pakṣiṇām: Among birds, I am Garuḍa.
    • Garuḍa is devotee of Viṣṇu. Son of Vinatā. Aruṇa’s younger brother.
    • Characteristics:
      • Flies very high. Even higher than vultures.
      • Looks like eagle with white band around neck.
      • Sighting is good omen.
    • Capacity to soar to such heights is Īśvara’s vibhūti.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 31:

pavanaḥ pavatāmasmi rāmaḥ śastrabhṛtāmaham |
jhaṣāṇāṃ makaraścāsmi srotasāmasmi jāhnavī ||

Among the purifiers, I am the wind, I am Rama among the weapon wielders, I am the Makara among fish; I am the Ganges among the rivers.


  • asmi pavanaḥ pavatām: Among various purifying agents, I am the wind (vāyu).
    • It keeps atmosphere clean.
    • It removes odor. Makes breathing pleasant.
    • Provides carbon-dioxide for plants. Gives oxygen to man.
    • That cleansing, life-giving possibility, I am.
  • ahaṃ rāmaḥ śasrabhṛtām: I am Rāma (avatāra of Viṣṇu) among the weapon wielders.
    • Referring to Rāma, son of Daśaratha.
      • Not other avatāra’s like: Paraśurāma, Balarāma, etc…
    • All Vedic gods have weapons. EG:
      • Śiva: paraśu (battle-axe). OR trisula (trident).
      • Viṣṇu: Kaumodakī (mace).
    • SYMBOLISM of Gods with weapons?
      • To protect Dharma, have to wield weapons.
      • If don’t know, will criticize Hindu gods, because all look frightening with weapons.
    • When to use weapons?
      • Initially resolve conflict via non-violent means. EG:
        • Doctor tries to save leg by all means. Before amputation.
        • Krishna went to Hastinapur, last time, as peace messenger.
      • If ALL non-violent attempts FAIL, resort to weapons.
        • To apply violence to protect dharma, is NOT pāpa.
          • Reason why not jailed if hurt another out of self-defense.
        • Krishna advises Arjuna to engage in a bloody-war, because Kauravas were not open to any peaceful suggestions.
    • How Lord uses weapons in devotees?
      • Lord’s weapon for ignorance is: viveka/vairāgyam.
        • EG: Krishna’s weapon is called: sudarśana cakra (darśanam is viveka/jñānam).
  • asmi ca makaraḥ jhaṣāṇām: Among varieties of sea creatures, I am Makara.
    • Any large aquatic animal, like: Crocodile, shark, whale.
      • EG: Ability of shark to devour.
    • That vibhūti, I am.
  • asmi jāhnavī strotasām: Among the rivers, I am Gaṅgā (Jāhnavī).
    • Always fresh.
    • Some say no bacteria can thrive for too long.
    • Dip considered to be pāpa purufication.
    • Symbolism:
      • Gaṅgā represents Brahma-Vidyā. OR flow of spiritual knowledge.
    • COMPARING Gaṅgā & Brahma-Vidyā:
Gaṅgā Brahma-Vidya
Comes from Lord Śiva’s head. Comes from first guru, Lord Śiva.
Reason we chant: sadā-śiva samārambhām
River flows from higher to lower plane. Flows from guru to śiṣya. Reason why guru is generally seated higher. So that knowledge can symbolically flow down to śiṣya.
Perennial (repeated) river. Never dries up. Perennial. Never dries up. Proof? We’re learning it.
If dip, feel rejuvenated. If dip into Vedānta listening, refreshes you.
Can’t dip anywhere. Dangerous rocks, whirlpool, depth. Can’t dip anywhere.
Reading by self = misinterpretation.
Must be in Brahma-vidyā environment.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 32:

sargāṇāmādirantaśca madhyaṃ caivāhamarjuna |
adhyātmavidyā vidyānāṃ vādaḥ pravadatāmaham ||

Oh Arjuna! I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of the creations. (I am) Self-knowledge among all branches of knowledge. I am the constructive discussion among discussions.


  • aham ādiḥ, madhyaṃ ca eva, ca antaḥ: Oh Arjuna! I am the beginning, middle, and end of all manifestations.
    • Seems to be repetition of v20.
      • How to reconcile?
        • V20 indicates sṛṣti, sthiti, laya kāraṇam – spatially.
          • Meaning, I am space which accommodates everything, including brahmaloka to bhū-loka (middle), to pātāla-loka (end).
        • V32 indicates time-wise. Meaning, I am available:
          • Before saṅkalpa (intention/thought).
          • While saṅkalpa is expressing as kriyā (process of doing).
          • I am time duration which let’s you enjoy your kriyā, in form of karma-phalam.
  • Adhyātma-vidyā vidhyānām: Among various disciplines of knowledge, I am…
    • ātma-vidyā (parā-vidya / brahma-vidyā):
      • Which reveals one’s eternal nature. Knowing which, everything at once becomes known.
      • Vidyā which permanently and completely frees one from beginingless ignorance.
        • EG of limitations:
          • Physical: expressed as desire to accumulate more.
          • Emotional: I am not loved by all. Noone asks about me.
          • Intellectual: More I know, more I am ignorant.
      • Whereas other branches (science, chemistry, biology, zoology, cooking, electricity) are anātma-vidyā – which sustains ignorance.
      • How is self-knowledge superior?
        • CH9 calls it rāja-vidyā (king among knowledges). Why king?
          • Because ātma is the ONLY reality.
          • Everything else is mithyā (unreal). EG:
            • In Kaṭha Upaniṣad commentaries: Ādi Śaṅkara says, material-knowledge, is good as ignorance.
            • Newton said in final years:
              • In youth, I was playing on shore with few pebbles.
              • After hundreds of discoveries in life, I am playing on shore with few pebbles.
            • Nārada mastered 84 branches of knowledge in 1 kalpa (4.32 bil years). Said to sanat kumāra, “My mind is still not at peace”. When got ātma-vidyā from guru Sanat-Kumāra, mind was finally at peace.
      • CH2 said, many don’t come to brahma-vidyā. Who do, don’t understand/misinterpret. Thus very few truly know.
  • ahaṃ vādaḥ pravadatām: I am constructive discussion leading to truth of matter.
    • There are 4 types of communication frameworks: (highest to lowest)
      • Saṃvāda:
        • Only between guru-śiṣya, regarding brahma-vidyā.
        • Silent mutual agreement to expound/receive.
          • Guru interested in imparting. Śiṣya interested in expanding/changing perception.
        • Because need to totally put away ahaṅkāra identity. And acknowledge one’s limitations.
        • Result: aparokṣa-jñānam.
      • Vāda:
        • People in rapport, with goal to establish truth about something.
          • Can either listen or speak.
        • Cooperative agreement to figure out.
        • Results: Builds relationships. Educates all. Cultivates effective speaking/listening skills.
      • Jalpa:
        • Conversation between two different belief-systems.
        • I am absolutely RIGHT! You are hopelessly WRONG!
        • Uses manipulation/deception to discredit your views, and PROVE my view is right.
        • Purpose: Win the argument.
      • Vitaṇḍā:
        • Personality clash. Anything said by another is judged as invalid/unworthy.
        • Neither have any view.
        • Purpose: Prove other wrong. Humiliate/demolish another.
      • Last 2 (jalpa/vitaṇḍā) = caught up in ahaṅkāra.
      • First 2 (saṃvāda / vāda) = I am.
        • Yes, Īśvara's laws are also first 2. But Krishna is mainly presenting pleasant vibhūtis in CH10.
  • NEXT VERSE: Most important letter is spoken about…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10 – Verse 33:

akṣarāṇāmakāro'smi dvandvaḥ sāmāsikasya ca |
ahamevākṣayaḥ kālo dhātā'haṃ viśvatomukhaḥ ||

I am the letter ‘a’ ‘अ’ among letters; (I AM) the dvandva among compounds; I am the eternal time; I am the dispenser facing all the directions.


  • asmi akāraḥ akṣarāṇām: I am letter “a” (not English, but अ) among letters.
    • is most fundamental. Because…
      • When open mouth, and air passes through, sound अ is effortlessly produced. Fact in all languages.
        • EG: Yawn, Morning, rollercoaster, jumping off cliff, pain. All “aaaaaa…”.
        • Meaning all other letters, need effort to change mouth position.
          • EG 1:
            • Dough can be shaped into any form.
            • In same way, अ is shaped into any letter, by modifying lips, mouth, throat contraction/expansion, tongue. EG: Show teeth = E.
          • EG 2:
            • One same air passes in flute. But modifying flute, sound changes.
    • Therefore, is ONE same upādāna-kāraṇam (material-cause) for all letters.
      • Meaning it is ONE cause of ALL effects, because of which all names ARE.
      • Thus truth of every sound/word is अ, which has been apparently modified.
    • Every alphabet letter has presiding deity. For अ it is Brahmāji (creator). Why?
      • Brahmāji is creator of all jagat
      • अ is cause of all alphabet letters.
      • Therefore अ stands for Brahmāji.
  • dvandvaḥ sāmāsikasya asmi: Among compounds, I am dvandvaḥ.
    • English compounds: Join 2 words, separate with hyphen.
      • EG: “I went to temple where Śiva can be seen” > “I went to Śiva-temple”.
        • Saves times-energy.
        • Presupposes more information.
          • EG: “I worshipped Śiva, learned about Śiva, etc”.
          • Context will tell.
    • Sanskrit compounds:
      • 4 basic compounds > expanded 7 types > expanded 35 types.
      • What are the 4?
        1. Avyayībhāva:
          • 1st word = most important.
          • EG: upakumbham (near the pot).
        2. Tatpuruṣa:
          • Last word = most important.
          • EG: rājapuruṣa (worker of the king).
        3. Bahuvrīhi:
          • Word not inside compound = most important.
          • EG 1: Eka-karṇam-ānaya.
            • Eka: one.
            • Karṇa: ear.
            • Ānaya: bring.
            • Incorrect: Bring one ear.
            • Correct: Bring one-eared person (not good listener).
          • EG 2: eka-akṣaram = One syllable = OM.
          • Most Gītā
        4. Dvandva:
          • All words important.
          • EG: rāmalakṣmaṇau (Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa).
    • I am dvandva, where all words important. Because Lord is same in all beings.
  • aham eva akṣayaḥ kālaḥ: I am eternal time.
    • I put an END to everything, but which itself does not end.
    • Meaning, everything gets exhausted in time, but time continues throughout.
      • Even during samaṣṭi pralayam (macrocosmic dissolution) into māyā, everything is resolved into potential.
        • But kāla (time) is still working in potential.
        • Because of it’s continuity (even in potential), next cycle of sṛṣṭi is possible.
    • Bhagavān says: I am time, which is eternal. Because of whom time is born. But who remains timeless.
      • So from standpoint of paramātmā, there is no time.
  • ahaṃ dhātā viśvatomukhaḥ: I am the giver (of karma-phala) who is all-pervasive.
    • My laws produce all the results in the universe.
      • Meaning:
        • I am “karma phala dātā”.
        • My laws GIVE corresponding results for corresponding actions to corresponding person.
        • I do this for devās, asurās, rākṣasās, humans, animals, insects, plants.
    • How I (Bhagavān) do this?
      • viśvatomukhaḥ: My face is turned in all 10 directions, watching everyone’s actions, and recording them. Because I am all-pervasive.
  • Final message:
    • Stopping vision at individual object:
      • Result: Likes/dislikes.
    • See essence of object as Īśvara vibhūti:
      • Immediately connected to Lord/TOTAL.


Keywords: adisesa, adishesha, agami, agnishtoma, agnistoma, aham kara, ahamkara, ahankara, anaya, aryama, asuras, atma jnana, atma-jnanam, atma-vidya, avatara, avyayibhava, bahuvrihi, balarama, bhagavan, bhagavans vibhuti, bhokta, bhuh bhur, bhuh loka, brahma vidya, brahmaji, brahmana, dadhici, dasaratha, dasharatha, devas, dharma raja, ganga, garuda, hiranyakashipu, hiranyakasipu, ishvara, isvara, jahnavi, jiva, jnanam, jnani, kala, kamadhenu, karanam, karma phala data, karmas, karna, karta, kashyapa, kasyapa, katha upanishad, kaumodaki, kriya, ksatriya, kshatriya, maharishi , maharsi, mithya, nagana, narasimha, narayana, narayanaya, nimitta-karanam, nirguna, para-vidya, parashu, parashurama, parasu, parasurama, patala, pitir-loka, pitr, pitr-loka, prahlada, prarabdha, prayascitta, prayashcitta, punya, puranas, raja-vidya, raksasa, rakshasa, rama, saguna, samvada, sancita, sankalpa, sankara, shankara, shishya, shrishti, sisya, siva shiva, srishti, sristi, srsti, sudarsana, sudarshana, tatpurusa, tatpurusha, upadana karanam, vada, vairagya, varna, varuna, vashistha, vasistha, vasuki, vayu, vinata, vishnu, vishvamitra, vishvatomukha, visnu, visvamitra, vitanda, vritrasura, vrtasura, yamuna


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

Recorded 3 March, 2020


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