The Yoga of Wisdom and Realisation

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     THE YOGA OF WISDOM AND REALISATION Summary of Seventh Discourse Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the supreme Godhead has to be realised in both its transcendent and immanent aspects. The Yogi who has reached this summit has nothing more to know. This complete union with the Lord is difficult of attainment. Among many thousands of human beings, very few aspire for this union, and even among those who aspire for it, few ever reach the pinnacle of spiritual realisation. The Lord has already given a clear description of the all-pervading static and infinite state of His. Now He proceeds to explain His manifestations as the universe and the power behind it. He speaks of these manifestations as His lower and higher Prakritis. The lower Prakriti is made up of the five elements, mind, ego and intellect. The higher Prakriti is the life-element which upholds the universe, activates it and causes its appearance and final dissolution. Krishna says that whatever exists is nothing but Himself. He is the cause of the appearance of the universe and all things in it. Everything is strung on Him like clusters of gems on a string. He is the essence, substance and substratum of everything, whether visible or invisible. Although everything is in Him, yet He transcends everything as the actionless Self. Prakriti or Nature is made up of the three Gunas or qualities — Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. These three qualities delude the soul and make it forget its true nature, which is one with God. This delusion, termed Maya, can only be removed by the Grace of the Lord Himself. Thus far Arjuna has been taught the highest form of devotion, which leads to union with God in His static aspect as also with His dynamic Prakriti. Krishna tells him that there are also other forms of devotion which are inferior as they are performed with various motives. The distressed, the seeker of divine wisdom, and he who desires  wealth, worship Him, as also the wise. Of these the Lord deems the wise as dearest to Him. Such a devotee loves the Lord for the sake of pure love alone. Whatever form the devotee worships, the ultimate goal is the Lord Himself. The Lord accepts such worship, knowing that it is directed to Him only. Verse 4   Bhoomiraapo’nalo vaayuh kham mano buddhireva cha;    Ahamkaara iteeyam me bhinnaa prakritirashtadhaa.  4. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and egoism — thus is My Nature divided eightfold. Sankara Bhashya   (Swami Gambirananda’s Translation and Commentary)  After giving rise to an occasion for further enquiry in the verse, 'Even among all the yogis, he who adores Me with his mind fixed on Me and with faith, he is considered by Me to be the best of the yogis', (now) with a view to instructing that 'the reality about Myself is of this kind, and one should have his mind fixed on Me in this way,' [The main themes in the first six chapters are renunciation of actions as the means to attaining Knowledge, and the ascertainment of the word 'Thou' (in 'Thou are That'). The next six chapters are devoted to the adoration of the Lord and the ascertainment of the meaning of the word 'That'.] on His own-  4. This Prakrti of Mine is divided eight-fold thus: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect and also egoism. Iyam, this; prakrtih, Prakrti, [Prakrti here does not mean the Pradhana of the Sankhyas.] the divine power called Maya; me, of Mine, as described; bhinna, is divided; astadha, eight-forl; iti, thus: bhumih, earth-not the gross earth but the subtle element called earth, this being understood from the statement, 'Prakrti (of Mine) is divided eight-fold'. Similarly, the subtle elements alone are referred to even by the words water etc. Apah, water; analah, fire; vayuh, air; kham, space; manah, mind. By 'mind' is meant its source, egoism. By buddhih, intellect, is meant the principle called mahat [Mahat means Hiranyagarbha, or Cosmic Intelligence.] which is the source of egoism. By ahankarah, egoism, is meant the Unmanifest, associated [Associated, i.e. of the nature of.] with (Cosmic) ignorance. As food mixed with position is called poison, similarly the Unmainfest, which is the primordial Cause, is called egoism since it is imbued with the impressions resulting from egoism; and egoism is the impelling force (of all). It is indeed seen in the world that egoism is the impelling cause behind all endeavour. Swami Chinmayananda’s Translation and Commentary  4. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect, egoism --- these are My eight-fold PRAKRITI. In an attempt to explain the world outside as a marriage between matter and spirit, great thinkers of the Vedic period had exercised their philosophical acumen and had given us the Sankhyan Philosophy. According to them, the Spiritual Factor (Purusha) presiding over a given matter envelopment, dynamises the inert matter and makes the insentient mineral assembly to act, as though it is intelligent and vital. This idea becomes clear to us when we take an example from the modern world.   With steel and iron, the manufacturer completes a steam-engine and when the cold engine is harnessed to steam, at high pressure, it does work. Steam by itself can never express its dynamic capacity and strength; on the other hand, when it is made to work through a given equipment, it is capable of adding motion and performance to the inert iron assemblage. Thus, one of the schools of philosophy in India tries to explain scientifically, how the Eternal and the Perfect Self comes to express Itself as the world-of-plurality, in the embrace of matter. This also explains the relationship between Spirit and matter. The technical terms used in the philosophy for those two items are: Prakriti, for the matter-envelopments, and Purusha for the Spirit-factor. Krishna explains in this and the following stanza, all the items that together constitute the matter and those that constitute the Spiritual Entity within a living man. Once the individual comes to understand clearly the distinction between matter and Spirit he will indeed come to understand that the Spirit identifying with matter, is the cause for all Its sufferings and when It is detached from Its identifications, it rediscoveres for itself its own essential nature as Perfection and Bliss Absolute. The spirit identifying with matter, and sharing the destinies of the inert equipment, is called the ego (Jeeva). It is the ego that comes to rediscover itself to be nothing other than the Spirit that presides over matter. In order to make Arjuna realise how exactly one is to understand the true nature of the Self, in all Its divine might and glory, Lord Krishna tries to enumerate the matter-aspect, as distinct from the Spiritual-Truth in each individual. The five great elements, mind, intellect and ego constitute, according to the Geeta, the eight-fold Prakriti that has come to be superimposed upon the Truth through ignorance. The five great cosmic elements are represented in the microcosm by the five sense-organs by which the individual comes to experience and live in the world of
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