Chapter 8 - Akshara-Parabrahman Yoga
Chapter 8, Verse 1
Arjuna after hearing what Krishna has said asks a question to Lord Krishna. What is the ultimate truth? Is it what we see in the world real or is there something else? what is the real truth? Also, what is the universal consciousness that is the energy behind all the Gods? What is the universal consciousness that is governing the universe? What is the right karma/action to do for people? And what is the consciousness that is inside a person?
Chapter 8, Verse 2
Arjuna continues asking questions. In this sloka, he asks who is the God who receives the sacrifices performed by human beings. Human beings perform various types of sacrifices. Not only in terms of ritual worship, but also for the sake of the family, for the country for work people sacrifice their energy and time. Arjuna asks who is receiving all the benefits of these sacrifices. Who is the ultimate benefactor?
Also, Arjuna asks how can we realize the being present within us (the soul) present within the human being.
Chapter 8, Verse 3
Lord Krishna replies with the words “aksara brahma param” meaning the universal consciousness is supreme and indestructible and is the universal truth. The actions that an individual takes to produce offspring and also to get something out of this material existence are called as fruit-bearing actions. Fruit bearing in the terms of fruits for the persons for the material body and not fruits of consciousness.
Chapter 8, Verse 4
Lord Krishna explains the meanings of the words “adhibhuta”, “adhidaiva” and “adhiyagna”. Adhibhuta is the physical external world that is made up of the five elements (earth, fire, water, ether, air). Adhidaiva is the universal consciousness that is present in the universe, in the form of the Gods. Adhiyagna is the force that performs all the action in the world. Lord Krishna says that universal consciousness is the essence of all these three. The adhibhuta, adhidaiva, adhiyagna are all manifestations of universal consciousness which is the core of all these.
Chapter 8, Verse 5
Here Lord Krishna gives a very powerful tool to reach universal consciousness or God. He says whoever will remember him at the time of death will come to him. We all know that death is uncertain and can strike us anytime. Every moment and any moment we can die, so Lord Krishna says that we should remember the God each and every moment when we are alive.
Is it possible to think about God all the time? We have read in earlier slokas that we should keep God at the back of our mind during whatever task we are doing and offer whatever work we are doing to him. Even work at the office, work at home for the family can be offered as a sacrifice for him. Thus, we keep moving closer and closer to the God with his thoughts. We may reach a stage where we will be concentrating on God more and other thoughts come less and less.
Chapter 8, Verse 6
Continuing what he said in earlier sloka, Lord Krishna says that whatever thought a person has at the time of death, he will become that thought in the next life. As it’s been said, death can come at any time so we should keep thinking about God all the time. He should be at the back of the mind. Instead of thinking about the results of work, about friends, family members, or what we want to attain, it is better to think the thoughts of the God whenever the thoughts get deviated from work.
Chapter 8, Verse 7
Here Lord Krishna reveals the ultimate truth. He asks Arjuna to constantly remember him all the times and fight. Suppose we are driving a vehicle on road (a metaphor for work in office or business) we have to concentrate on the road, but sometimes our thoughts get diverted, the thoughts at the time of diversion should be about God and nothing else. Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to fight. (Metaphor for people to carry their work. Krishna keeps two preconditions i.e., offering the mind and Buddhi(intellect) to the God. This means whatever action you do you do it for God. This helps us in keeping ourselves concentrated without getting us diverted to other thoughts of pursuing material thoughts. If a person leads the life like this he will attain Lord Krishna/God.
Chapter 8, Verse 8
Here in this sloka, Lord Krishna says that whoever is practicing the eight-limb yoga system or who have mastered the system of uniting individual consciousness with universal consciousness with an undeviating mind and remembering the God every moment will definitely reach him. It is almost the same as earlier sloka but the advice of “following yoga with an unwavering mind is included here”.
Chapter 8, Verse 9
Here the characteristics of God are given here. Lord Krishna says the God is omniscient (meaning is present everywhere), and is present even before the creation of the universe. Though He is small even smaller than the atom he controls the entire universe. His form in inconceivable, that is beyond the human imagination and he is radiating like the Sun. It is difficult for human cognizance to imagine him because we are so much used to take cognizance of only material things we cannot imagine the transcendental nature of God. The latest findings in astronomy say before big bang everything ( the entire universe) was so small that it was the size of a pinhead and it is basically energy form. Energy does not have a form and shape.
Chapter 8, Verse 10
Lord Krishna explains how to reach the supreme God of the universe. He says those people who are practicing yoga with their heat and mind with a un deviated mind, who are involved in the service of God (treating every work as a work for the welfare of people/and not for self), and one who properly meditates on the breath in-between the eye bows will achieve the supreme God.
Chapter 8, Verse 11
Now Lord Krishna says he will explain the other path by which the God can be realized. It is just like different roads lead to a destination; Sri Krishna is also describing different paths to reach God. It is the path of brahmacharya. Lord Krishna says a person practicing Brahmacharya and is devoid of all the desires and hatred will reach the God.
Chapter 8, Verse 12
After describing Brahmacharya as a desirable quality, Lord Krishna gives a very powerful sloka. The contents of this sloka given earlier also but in this sloka, Krishna makes an emphatic statement. He says that there should be restraint from all the senses. The eyes, ears, nose, skin, mouth are the main sense organs. there should be a restraint on them. The modern psychosomatic theory says that the body has its own mind. It’s not only practicing the control of mind will help but also restraining the sense organs is also needed. Then Krishna says the mind should follow the heart. The heart is where the spirit consciousness resides. It usually keeps us moving towards the universal consciousness, but because it cannot speak we usually keep listening to our mind. It’s better we make our mind subservient to the universal consciousness. We should remember spirit is not the inner voice in us. We may feel that the spirit speaking to us through inner voice but it is usually silent. Witnessing our deeds and guiding us towards our final goal in its own way.
Lord Krishna also says the life force, prana, breath should be concentrated on uniting the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness.
Chapter 8, Verse 13
This is a very powerful sloka. In this Lord Krishna says that whoever keeps uttering the universal sound OM, remembering lord Krishna consciously then they will ultimately reach him. Here it is said that the universal sound OM, is the representation of the God. We can keep thinking of om we think of God. The breath is also the representation of the lord. Whenever we have the time or thinking of some thoughts, we need to chant om at that moment or concentrate on the breath. Then we will definitely reach him.
Chapter 8, Verse 14
This is one of the powerful slokas of Geetha. Lord Krishna gives hope to people that God is easily attainable. We are being told that finding God and reaching God is difficult. Here Lord Krishna says it is easy to find him. The conditionalities for finding God easily are
- They should not deviate from the pursuit.
- Constantly remembering him. (remembering him at all moments)
- Is always engaged. (Not taking holidays)
The conditionality number one says that they should not deviate from the pursuit. Does it mean that we should leave all other work? Krishna is not saying we leave all the work, we keep doing our work but remembering God continuously.
Chapter 8, Verse 15
Those great sages who are constantly engaged in him, and realize the God will never be born back on this earth.
Chapter 8, Verse 16
This sloka gives an example of the universe. Lord Krishna says that the souls where ever they go (even to Brahma Lok ) will have to be reborn on this planet again and have to go through the rigors of life. If the soul wants liberation, freedom and not to be reborn again then the only solution is reaching for the supreme reality and know the truth. The only way is the union of the individual consciousness to universal consciousness. All other efforts by human beings make then achieve things on this planet, but they have to leave them and go.
Chapter 8, Verse 17
Here the concept of the cycle of time is given. As time moves as day and night and in the same way a human soul keeps moving from body to body.
Chapter 8, Verse 18 & 19
It was mentioned in the earlier sutra, the concept of cyclical time, as to when it is day and when it is night as per the time of Brahma. In this sloka, it is mentioned that all living beings come to life when it is the day for the Brahma and they perish when it is the night for him. Here we can observe that light and energy of light is necessary for living beings to survive. Once the light is gone then all living beings vanish. Light is the energy that sustains life. The living beings take birth and also perish as per the cycles of Brahma. Here light can also be taken as an example of knowledge. If knowledge is there then there is life and if knowledge is not there then its equivalent to death for human beings. All other beings are dependent on the light of the day of Brahma.
Chapter 8, Verse 20
There is one thing that is eternal and immune to the cycles of time of Brahma. It is not manifest on the earth or in the universe. It was there before the creation of the material world and before the creation of living beings and will always be there forever. It is not destroyed even when the whole beings are destroyed as per cycles of time.
Chapter 8, Verse 21
What is the highest aspiration a human being should aspire for? Human beings should aspire to the supreme goal of their life. What is the supreme goal? The supreme goal of any being is breaking the cycle of samsara and not be reborn on this planet. This happens only when we reach the supreme abode of God. How does the supreme abode look like? It is indescribable. Anyone who reaches it cannot describe it. it is beyond the comprehension of this human mind and explain in terms of experiences of human beings we normally go through. The supreme abode is also imperishable. Thus, the aspiration of all human beings is reaching the supreme energy and merging with that energy.
Chapter 8, Verse 22
In this sloka Lord Krishna says that the supreme energy, which pervades the entire universe, which is within all living beings, which is imperishable and with in which everything is present can be attained by pure, undivided devotion. If we are devoted by the devotion to know that energy, people can achieve that energy.
Chapter 8, Verse 23
Lord Krishna says he will describe in the coming slokas the paths that exist for people to leave the world. Some people achieve liberation while leaving the world and some people achieve liberation. People who achieve liberation are those who unite the individual consciousness with universal consciousness. Other people will take rebirth in the samsara.
Chapter 8, Verse 24 & 25
Lord Krishna gives here the various times where when death happens the person reaches the celestial abode. It is usually said that when death happens in the time of light, then he will reach celestial abode. What is light here? Light is knowledge. if a person has the death when he has knowledge about universal energy and if has arrived for it then he reached supreme abode. If death happens in ignorance, then the person is again reborn on this planet.
Chapter 8, Verse 26
There are two paths that exist in the world. One is the path of light and other is the path of darkness. These paths existed since the creation of the material world. Lord Krishna clearly makes a distinction between the paths and what path people should lead. It is then left to the choice of the individual which path to choose. The modern physics claim the existence of parallel universes. (multiverse). If we take actions in a certain way our life will be in a certain way in one type of universe and if we take actions the other way our life would be different in another universe.
This is a classic example of determinism and free will compatibility. The paths are always there. If a person chooses the path of darkness he will be led into the dark and if he is chosen the path of light then he will lead a life of light and enter the world of light.
Chapter 8, Verse 27
Lord Krishna reiterates again that a person who wants to unite the individual consciousness with universal consciousness has to do so by knowing the paths well. The person should understand well what happens he takes a particular path. For this knowledge is necessary. That’s why along with yoga, knowledge is quite important. He should know what is darkness and what is light for every step a person takes. Once he knows the path well then, he just needs to travel and reach the goal.
Chapter 8, Verse 28
The yogis who know this secret of paths of light and know which path leads to where , whether rebirth or not being born again. Thus, they will reach the supreme abode. What is the secret? It is that there should be a supreme goal. It can be whatever goal, but Lord Krishna says it should be reaching the God so that there is no rebirth.
Once the Goal of reaching him is established and if the person practices the path of yoga then it is better than the Vedic rituals or sacrifices, donations to charity, the performance of austerities etc.