THE BHAGAVAD GITA: Chapter 8

Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 8 (Part-1) Akshara Brahma Yogah- Yoga of  Imperishable Brahman

Reference: Course on The Bhagavad Gita

English Translation By Swami Sivananda with my comments in color.

NOTE: The following translation of the Sanskrit verses into English is obtained from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, SADHAKA SANJIVANI by Swami Ramsukhdas, published by Govind Bhawan Karyalaya, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, INDIA. For original comments please consult the above book. Abbreviated comments in color are provided by Vinaire.]

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Chapter 8

अर्जुनउवाच
किंतद्ब्रह्मकिमध्यात्मंकिंकर्मपुरुषोत्तम।
अधिभूतंचकिंप्रोक्तमधिदैवंकिमुच्यते।।8.1।।
अधियज्ञःकथंकोऽत्रदेहेऽस्मिन्मधुसूदन।
प्रयाणकालेचकथंज्ञेयोऽसिनियतात्मभिः।।8.2।।

Arjuna said:
What is that Brahma? What is Adhyātma? What is Karma (Action)? O Best among men! What is said to be Adhibhūta and what is called Adhidaiva? Who and how is Adhiyajña here in this body, O Krsna? And how are You to be realized at the time of death by persons of steadfast mind? (VIII-1, 2)

श्रीभगवानुवाच
अक्षरंब्रह्मपरमंस्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते।
भूतभावोद्भवकरोविसर्गःकर्मसंज्ञितः।।8.3।।

The Blessed Lord said:
The Supreme Imperishable is Brahma; one’s own self (soul) is called Adhyātma, the discharge of spirit which brings forth the existence of beings is called Karma (Action). (VIII-3)

अधिभूतंक्षरोभावःपुरुषश्चाधिदैवतम्।
अधियज्ञोऽहमेवात्रदेहेदेहभृतांवर।।8.4।।

O best of the embodied, all perishable objects are Adhibhūta, Brahma is Adhidaiva; and I dwelling as the inner witness in this body, is Adhiyajña. (VIII-4)

At the beginning of Chapter 8, definitions are provided for some basic concepts.

BRAHMA–The Supreme Imperishable… only agaist the backdrop of infinite duration can all changes be perceived.

Adhyātma–The individual self… as the self separates from Brahma it becomes perishable.

Karma–The discharge of spirit which brings forth the existence of beings… it is the lack of assimilation into Brahma that brings about the discontinuity, disharmony, and inconsistency of separate beings.

Adhibhūta–All perishable objects… the very substance of the universe (impulse and energy spectrum) and all the things made from them are perishable.

Adhidaiva–Same as Brahma… (see above)

Adhiyajña–I dwelling as the inner witness in this body… This is the Universal Viewpoint that is resolving all discontinuities, disharmonies and inconsistencies.

अन्तकालेचमामेवस्मरन्मुक्त्वाकलेवरम्।
यःप्रयातिसमद्भावंयातिनास्त्यत्रसंशयः।।8.5।।

He who departs from the body thinking of (remembering) Me alone, even at the time of death, attains Me, there is no doubt about it. (VIII-5)

यंयंवापिस्मरन्भावंत्यजत्यन्तेकलेवरम्।
तंतमेवैतिकौन्तेयसदातद्भावभावितः।।8.6।।

Whatever being (object) a man thinks of at the time of death when he leaves the body, that alone does he attain, O kaunteya (Arjuna), been ever absorbed in the thought thereof. (VIII-6)

तस्मात्सर्वेषुकालेषुमामनुस्मरयुध्यच।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयम्।।8.7।।

Therefore, think of Me at all times and fight. Mind and intellect thus surrendered to Me, you will surely come to Me. (VIII-7)

The clarity of thoughts and their level of attainment at the time of death seems to continue forward. The progress made in one lifetime in terms of evolution of knowledge, understanding and awareness is not lost.

अभ्यासयोगयुक्तेनचेतसानान्यगामिना।
परमंपुरुषंदिव्यंयातिपार्थानुचिन्तयन्।।8.8।।

O Pārtha (Arjuna) he who with his mind established in Yoga in the form of practice of meditation, thinking of nothing else, is constantly engaged in contemplation  of the Supreme Divine Purusa (God) attains Him. (VIII-8)

कविंपुराणमनुशासितारमणोरणीयांसमनुस्मरेद्यः।
सर्वस्यधातारमचिन्त्यरूपमादित्यवर्णंतमसःपरस्तात्।।8.9।।

He who contemplates on the Omniscient, the Ancient, the Ruler, minuter than an atom, Sustainer of all, of Form inconceivable, Shining like the sun and beyond all darkness of ignorance. (VIII-9)

प्रयाणकालेमनसाऽचलेनभक्त्यायुक्तोयोगबलेनचैव।
भ्रुवोर्मध्येप्राणमावेश्यसम्यक्सतंपरंपुरुषमुपैतिदिव्यम्।।8.10।।

By Yogic power firmly holding the life breath in the space between the two eyebrows at the time of death, contemplating on God with a steadfast mind, full of devotion, he reaches the Supreme Divine Purusa (God). (VIII-10)

The Supreme Divine Purusa is the “Universal Self”. The whole point of meditation is to perceive the “Universe” and the “Self” for what it actually is. The universe reduces to atoms, and beyond that to quantum particles and raw energy. The self is the ancient raw impulse that empowers the universe and its energy. All this is perceived by the practice of Yoga whose power comes from a single-pointed concentration. When you maintain this single-pointed concentration steadfastly at the time of death you perceive the “Universal Self”.

यदक्षरंवेदविदोवदन्तिविशन्तियद्यतयोवीतरागाः।
यदिच्छन्तोब्रह्मचर्यंचरन्तितत्तेपदंसंग्रहेणप्रवक्ष्ये।।8.11।।

I shall speak to you in brief that goal which knowers of the Vedas term as the Imperishable, and into which enter recluses, self-controlled and free from attachment, and desiring which strivers practice celibacy. (VIII-11)

सर्वद्वाराणिसंयम्यमनोहृदिनिरुध्यच।
मूर्ध्न्याधायात्मनःप्राणमास्थितोयोगधारणाम्।।8.12।।
ओमित्येकाक्षरंब्रह्मव्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन्।
यःप्रयातित्यजन्देहंसयातिपरमांगतिम्।।8.13।।

Having restrained all the media of perception, fixing the mind in the heart and the life breath in the head, remaining steadfast in Yogic concentration, uttering the one syllabled Brahma ‘Om’ thinking of Me, he who departs leaving the body, attains the Supreme State. (VIII-12, 13)

Imperishable seems to be the raw impulse and raw energy that form the universe. Imperishable can be experienced only when one has a completely non-attached and objective viewpoint. Celibacy is a natural outcome of such a viewpoint. Attainment of this experience requires sensitivity of both perception and feeling, and one-pointed concentration. When a person departs in this state he becomes part of the Imperishable.

अनन्यचेताःसततंयोमांस्मरतिनित्यशः।
तस्याहंसुलभःपार्थनित्ययुक्तस्ययोगिनः।।8.14।।

O Pārtha (Arjuna), the Yogi who constantly thinks of Me with undivided mind, always absorbed in Me, I am easily attainable. (VIII-14)

मामुपेत्यपुनर्जन्मदुःखालयमशाश्वतम्।
नाप्नुवन्तिमहात्मानःसंसिद्धिंपरमांगताः।।8.15।।

Having attained Me, the great souls are no more subject to rebirth, which is transitory and the abode of pain; for they have reached the highest perfection. (VIII-15)

आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाःपुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन।
मामुपेत्यतुकौन्तेयपुनर्जन्मनविद्यते।।8.16।।

All worlds from the abode of Brahmā downwards are subject to return; O Arjuna. But O son of Kunti, on attaining Me there is no rebirth. (VIII-16)

Meditation is examining self under the discipline of mindfulness. This is what a Yogi is doing with his one-pointed concentration. Once the discipline is there, the understanding of Self is attained quite easily. Rebirth is simply the process of going through another cycle of life in order to painstakingly sort out the self. But rebirth is no longer necessary when the nature of Self is fully understood. But short of that understanding, rebirth is necessary.

सहस्रयुगपर्यन्तमहर्यद्ब्रह्मणोविदुः।
रात्रिंयुगसहस्रान्तांतेऽहोरात्रविदोजनाः।।8.17।।

Those who know that the day of Brahmā lasts a thousand four-fold Yugas (Ages) and that his night lasts a thousand four-fold Yugas, they know the reality about Brahmā’s day and night. (VIII-17)

अव्यक्ताद्व्यक्तयःसर्वाःप्रभवन्त्यहरागमे।
रात्र्यागमेप्रलीयन्तेतत्रैवाव्यक्तसंज्ञके।।8.18।।

All manifest beings emanate from the Unmanifest (Brahmā subtle body) at the commencement of Brahmā’s day; and at the commencement of his night they merge in the same unmanifest. (VIII-18)

भूतग्रामःसएवायंभूत्वाभूत्वाप्रलीयते।
रात्र्यागमेऽवशःपार्थप्रभवत्यहरागमे।।8.19।।

This multitude of beings, being born again and again, under compulsion from Prakrti, merges at the commencement of Brahmā’s night and rises again at the commencement of his day. (VIII-19)

Brahma’s day and night represent one cycle of this universe. It is a very, very long time. At the end of this cycle all karmic effects, that were responsible for rebirths, are washed away. With the new cycle of the universe everything starts anew.

परस्तस्मात्तुभावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः।
यःससर्वेषुभूतेषुनश्यत्सुनविनश्यति।।8.20।।

Beyond this unmanifest (Brahmā’s subtle body) there is yet another unmanifested Eternal Existence which does not perish even though all beings perish. (VIII-20)

अव्यक्तोऽक्षरइत्युक्तस्तमाहुःपरमांगतिम्।
यंप्राप्यननिवर्तन्तेतद्धामपरमंमम।।8.21।।

This Unmanifest, spoken of as Imperishable, is said to be the Supreme Goal; that is My Supreme Abode attaining which there is no return. (VIII-21)

पुरुषःसपरःपार्थभक्त्यालभ्यस्त्वनन्यया।
यस्यान्तःस्थानिभूतानियेनसर्वमिदंततम्।।8.22।।

That Supreme Purusa, O Pārtha, in Whom all beings reside and by Whom all this is pervaded, is attainable only by exclusive devotion. (VIII-22)

Beyond the cyclic universe is the concept of imperishable, eternal, universe that is cycling. This is the ultimate realization, which is the supreme goal of the Yogi. Such a realization puts one above the concern for any cycles, or changes.

यत्रकालेत्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिंचैवयोगिनः।
प्रयातायान्तितंकालंवक्ष्यामिभरतर्षभ।।8.23।।

Now I shall tell you, O best of the Bharatas, the time when the Yogis depart never to return and also the time when they depart to return. (VIII-23)

अग्निर्ज्योतिरहःशुक्लःषण्मासाउत्तरायणम्।
तत्रप्रयातागच्छन्तिब्रह्मब्रह्मविदोजनाः।।8.24।।

In the path in which are stationed deities presiding over effulgent fire, day light, the bright fortnight and the six months of the northward course of the sun, then going forth after death, the knowers of Brahma (having attained Brahma-lok along with Brahmā) finally reach Brahma. (VIII-24)

धूमोरात्रिस्तथाकृष्णःषण्मासादक्षिणायनम्।
तत्रचान्द्रमसंज्योतिर्योगीप्राप्यनिवर्तते।।8.25।।

In the path in which are stationed the gods presiding over smoke, night, the dark fortnight and the six months of the southern passage of the sun, then going forth, the Yogī (devoted to action with a motive) after death obtains the lunar light and returns to the mortal world. (VIII-25)

The ancients had a good perception of the change in the orientation of the Earth as it rotated around the Sun. As the realization of the ultimate viewpoint grows like the days growing longer, the Yogi achieves his final destination, never to return. But as the Yogi devotes himself to actions with a motive like the days growing shorter, he must return to the mortal world to finish his business.

शुक्लकृष्णेगतीह्येतेजगतःशाश्वतेमते।
एकयायात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययाऽऽवर्ततेपुनः।।8.26।।

These two paths, the bright and the dark, are considered to be the world’s eternal paths. Proceeding by one, a man has not to return, while proceeding by the other, he returns. (VIII-26)

नैतेसृतीपार्थजानन्योगीमुह्यतिकश्चन।
तस्मात्सर्वेषुकालेषुयोगयुक्तोभवार्जुन।।8.27।।

Knowing these two paths, O Pārtha, no Yogi is deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna, be established in Yoga, at all times. (VIII-27)

वेदेषुयज्ञेषुतपःसुचैवदानेषुयत्पुण्यफलंप्रदिष्टम्।
अत्येतितत्सर्वमिदंविदित्वायोगीपरंस्थानमुपैतिचाद्यम्।।8.28।।

The Yogi, who knows this secret, transcends the fruits of meritorious deeds attached to the study of the Vedas, performance of sacrifices, austerities and charities, and attains the supreme primeval Abode.  (VIII-28)

Essentially we have the summary in these two paths of all that is prescribed in the Vedas.

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