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Bhagavagd Gita - Session 22- Track 2202

Now, in the case of Bhagavad Gita also, this concept of Nirvana is to be understood in a larger context. First of all, Sri Krishna speaks of the word brahmanirvāṇa. In Buddhism there is a concept of Nirvana, but it is śūnyanirvāṇa: it is extinction in nothingness, in the ‘Nihil’, in something that is never capable of producing anything, it is a real śūnya. In the case of Sri Krishna, this is a work of Vedanta. In Vedanta the ultimate Reality is not śūnya, but the pure Existent, the pure substance. So, Brahma is the pure substance, which is self–existent, and it has a status in which everything can be extinguished, except itself. The Brahman is the one Reality, which cannot be extinguished. As Sri Krishna has declared in the 2nd chapter:

nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ | (II, 16)

“That which exists cannot become non–existent; that which is non–existent can never come into existence.” So, Brahman, which is the real existent never, gets extinguished: therefore everything else is extinguished except the Brahman. Therefore, when the word brahmanirvāṇa is given here; there is a natural tendency to say that brahmanirvāṇa is a state in which everything is extinguished except the Brahman. And therefore, a conclusion is derived: “Therefore, having reached that point no further action is possible”. Is this a real and valid interpretation? That is the question. Now, in this verse itself therefore, Sri Krishna dispels this question and He says:

labhante brahmanirvāṇaṁ ṛṣayaḥ kṣīṇakalmaṣāḥ | (V, 25)

“The Rishis whose sins are all washed away, they arrive at brahmanirvāṇa”; then what happens? “chinnadvaidhā, their dualities are cut; yatātmānaḥ, the self is united in Yoga; sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ, they become completely engaged in sarvabhūtahite.” They are not extinguished, all the creatures, the welfare of all the creatures become a great motive of action of those who attain to brahmanirvāṇa. Therefore, according to Sri Krishna there is a no–doubt extinction of ego, but not the extinction of the individuality, nor the extinction of action. The Nirvana means the extinction of ego, egoistic consciousness in Nirvana is extinguished, but the individuality of the Bhakta, off the Karmayogi is not annulled.

This is because as we shall see later on in the 7th chapter, the individual is jiva, and Jiva is described by Sri Krishna as mamaivāṁśaḥ(XV, 7), “it is my own portion” and it is also described as parā prakṛtir jīvabhūta (VII, 5), “the individual is that which is produced by the Para Prakriti”. Neither the Para Prakriti nor the Supreme is unreal, can be extinguishable; therefore the portion of his being cannot be extinguished; therefore the Jiva is not extinguished. Individual is not extinguished. And it is that Reality which is at once Kshara and Akshara. The Akshra condition does not annul the aspect of Kshara: therefore activity also is not annulled. And that is why brahmanirvāṇa means: it is the condition in which you attain to the oneness with Brahman, in which egoism is extinguished, but then your individuality and capacity to act actually becomes much more accentuated and you become sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ: you become engaged in the welfare of all the people.

Now, just as here the emphasis upon the Knowledge of the Brahman and yet there is no extinction of action, similarly in chapter n°6 we have once again the emphasis on the highest Knowledge that is attained. As I told you chapters’ n°5 and 6 are actually elucidation of the first 4 chapters. And the highest point, the culminations of these four chapters are described so that you g et an overview of all that is contained in the synthesis of Knowledge and Action.

Now, chapter n°6 verses 29, 30, and 31, also describe the condition of Knowledge. Just as brahmanirvāṇa is one of the states of Knowledge that is attained at the climax of Karma yoga, similarly here also is a description of the…. 2202

…similarly here, there is a description of the climax of Karma yoga, which ends in the Knowledge: Knowledge of Oneness. Brahman is also the Knowledge of Oneness, but now this Knowledge of Oneness is described in a greater detail, which is as follows:

sarvabhūtastham ātmānaṁ sarvabhūtani cātmani |
īkṣate yogayuktātmā sarvatra samadarśanaḥ ||29|| (VI)

yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati |
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati ||30|| (VI)

sarvabhūtasthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajaty ekatvam āsthitaḥ |

sarvathā vartamāno ’pi sa yogī mayi vartate ||31|| (VI)

sarva–bhūta–stham ātmānaṁ sarva–bhūtani cātmani, “One who sees all in oneself and oneself in others, it is he who is, sarva yoga–yuktātmā, he is completely settled in Yoga; and, sarvatra sama–darśanaḥ, and he sees everywhere oneness; sama–darśanaḥ, equality is the perception that arise from this oneness.”

Then, this is again repeated:

“One who sees Me everywhere, and who sees everything in Me...” Now here there is a distinction: to see everything in Self, and Self in everything. There is a one step farther: above the Self is the Supreme. The Self is the word, which is given in Sanskrit, to Atman or to Brahman; but Brahman is only an aspect of stillness, of oneness, but out of the oneness there is a multiplicity, which comes out, ūtikṣara, and the origin of both the stillness and of the multiplicity is Purushottama, which is described in the Bhagavad Gita by the word aham, mama, mayi, “it is referred to Me”, that is Sri Krishna Himself, to indicate that He is even superior to Atman. The supreme Lord is not only Atman, He is not only Brahman (or Atman it is the same word), He is not only the multiplicity, but one who transcends both, and He is the origin of both.

In the Gita’s understanding whenever you come across the word “Atman”, or “Brahman”, it means the “Oneself”, “Oneness”. Wherever there is a word of sarvatra, sarvabhūtani, it refers to the kṣara: the mobile reality, the dynamic reality. Brahman or Atman is the immobile. Wherever the word of Atman or Brahman is used, it is primarily referred to the state of Immobility, the state of Equality, state of Oneness. Wherever there is the sarvabhūtani, sarvatra, wherever the word sarva comes, it refers to multiplicity and dynamism and kṣara. And wherever the word aham, mama, mayi, these words come, it indicates Sri Krishna’s own personality who is superior to both Brahman and Multiplicity, both dynamism and staticity, and it transcends them both, and He is the supreme Purushottama.

So, now Sri Krishna says that not only that everybody is seen in the Self, and Self in everybody, but further, yo māṁ paśyatisarvatra, “he who sees Me everywhere”, that is the supreme Purushottama everywhere; sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati, and “he who sees all in Me”; tasyāha na praṇaśyāmi, “that one is never destroyed”, the individuality is never destroyed. Individual in this sense is one, which is the portion of the supreme: tasyāha na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyāti, “and for him I am never destroyed”. So, “My relationship with him remains eternal, he lives in Me, and I live in him”.

Now, the conclusion in the 3rd one:

sarvabhūtasthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajaty ekatvam āsthitaḥ |
sarvathā vartamāno ’pi sa yogī mayi vartate ||31|| (VI)

This is the climax of the relationship between the individual and the Supreme: not only the individual sees the Self in all, and all in the Self, not only he sees the Lord in all, and all in the Lord, and in himself, but now, bhajaty ekatvam āsthitaḥ, “he devotes himself thoroughly”, it is not only perception, but he completely lives in state of constant dedication–devotion: sarva–bhūta–sthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajaty ekatvam āsthitaḥ, “he sees Me as one everywhere”, and “he”, bhajaty, “he remains in a state of devotion”; sarvathā vartamāno ’pi, “he moves about everywhere” and yet, sa yogī mayi vartate, and yet, “he is not exhausted in all, he returns to Me, in the supreme Lord and lives there for eternity”.

These three statements of the Bhagavad Gita, you might say are the kernel of the statement of the state of Knowledge that Bhagavad Gita prescribes. Until this goal is reached, you cannot even reach the goal of Karma yoga. The highest goal of Knowledge becomes the condition of the highest goal of Karma yoga and this is the real synthesis.