Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita


The Bhagavad-Gita is a part of the Mahabharat, which is attributed to Vyasa. It is regarded as one of the most sacred books of the Hindus. It is more a book on ethics than one on metaphysics. Even as a treatise on ethics it is not a compact philosophical work. It is an inspired poetical work with a philosophical theme. It is rightly called the Song Divine.

Ontology
The Gita teaches theism, and regards God (isvara) as the supreme reality. He is higher than Brahman. God is the foundation of the immortal infinite Absolute. He is holy and the ground of the eternal moral order. He is the fountain of the ground of the eternal moral order. He is the fountain of eternal bliss. He is the Supreme Reality. He is unequalled, unexcelled, infinite, eternal, and immutable. He is unborn, immortal, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. He knows the past, the present, and the future. He is ancient and without beginning, middle, and end. He is ancient and the ultimate ground of the universe. He is the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe. He is their lord and moral Governor. He is one in many. He is existent and non-existent. He is both transcendental existence and empirical existence. He is the Supreme person. This is theism.

God is the supreme Brahman (Para Brahma), which is unborn and eternal, neither existent nor non-existent. It is not existent as an empirical being, nor non-existent as a transcendental reality. It pervades the world, but it is not exhausted in it. It is immanent in it, and transcends it. It is devoid of sattva, rajas, and conscious of the empirical world composed of the gunas. It is detached and sustains the relative world. It is devoid of all external and internal sense organs, and yet it knows all sensible and intelligible objects. Brahman is moving and unmoving remote and near, inside and outside the creatures. It is non-spatial, and yet extended in space. It is the immobile spirit and the moving universe. It is the transcendent and immanent. It is subtle and unknowable by the senses, mind, and intellect. It is the supreme light of the lights and illumines all objects. It is the indwelling spirit in the hearts of all beings. Brahman is the impersonal Absolute. It is not equal to God, the ultimate Reality.

The Gita lays stress on the immanence of God in the universe in some verses. He is the indwelling spirit in all creatures. He is their origin, middle, and end. He is the best of all things, beings and qualities. He is the source of good and evil. But the Gita does not teach pantheism. It teaches pane theism. The god is not the world. The world is not God. But the world exits in god. All creatures exist in him. He pervades them all as their inner guide. He is the eternal and imperishable essence abiding in perishing creatures. He is the immanent essence in all finite things and spirits as a thread running through beads. He is the seed and life of all creatures. All creatures exist in him. But he is not identical with them. He pervades the universe by his umanifest form. He is the invisible spirit in the visible world. He is not affected by empirical objects and finite spirits entangled in them. He is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of all creatures. They issue from Him, are maintained by him, and reabsorbed in him. He supports the entire universe by pervading it with his single fragment. He is incorporeal, part less, undivided, infinite spirit. The entire universe is a manifestation of a single fraction of him. He transcends it to infinite beyond, and exists in immeasurable perfection. He is immanent in the universe and transcendent of it. This is panentheism.

There are two purusas  in the universe, the perishable (ksara) purusa and the imperishable (aksara) purusa. All created things and beings constitute the ksara purusa. The immutable purusa underlying them is the Aksara purusas. The Aksara purusas is the eternal, inactive, immobile, and immutable self of all, yet unmoved and different. It is timeless in time, spaceless in space and non-causal in producing effects. The ksara purusas is the dynamic active mutable immanent universal soul of the world. The Aksara purusas is the transcendent, inactive, immutable self of all, from which proceds mutation of things. The Ksara purusas corresponds to the Ksara Brahman, and the Aksara purusas to the Aksara Brahman of the Upanishads.

The purusottama, supreme person, transcends the totality of mutable universe and the immutable and imperishable self of the world. He transcends the active, dynamic, universal soul of nature, and its eternal, immutable static, inactive, immobile self and integrates them together in his supreme unity. He is immobile in his mutaton and becoming. He is inspires and informs the three worlds, and sustains and maintains them. He transcends the ksara purusas and the aksara purusas. He is the supreme, infinite person. The Ksara purusas is the soul immanent in the universe. The aksara purusas transcendent of it. It is indefinable, inconceivable, immutable, immobile, eternal, and unmanifest. This is the transcendent self of the universe. The purusottama is superior to the immanent soul and the transcendent self, the mutable and the immutable. The divine person is higher than the absolute. This is theism.

Prakriti is the mother of the whole universe. God is the father, who fertilizes her, and produces the entire universe through her. Prakriti is called Maya, which is not a through her. Prakriti is called Maya, which is not an appearance. It is the divine power insparable from God. Prakriti supervised by God produces all animate and inanimate creatures. They are re-absorbed in prakriti in dissolution. Prakriti is unmanifest. All manifest objects, inanimate and animate, spring from unmanifest prakriti and dissolve in it. God produces the world through His power, prakriti or maya. He is the efficient cause, and prakrti is its material cause. The world produced by God through his power or prakriti is real. It is mutable and perishable. The Gita recognize the reality of the world, which is informed by the Divine spirit.

God has higher (para) prakrit and lower(apara) prakriti. The former consitiutes the universe of animate and sentient creatures. It conscious prakriti, which sustains the world of conscious living beings. The latter is unconscious and composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and the three internal organs of manas, buddhi, and ahamkara.

Sattva , rajas and tamas are products of prakriti. They delude the individual souls, and bind them to samsara. They blind the incoporal souls to their corporal bodies. Sattva is pure, transparent, and free from pain; it manifests objects. It produces knowledge and pleasures in the infinite souls, and binds them to the world through it. It is the cause of desire and anger. Tamas springs from ignorance, deludes all finite souls, produces carelessness, laziness and sleep in them, and binds them to the world. Sattva attaches them to pleasure; rajas, to actions; and tamas to negligence. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are the primordial elements in the psychical nature. Sometimes sattva overcome rajas and tamas, and becomes predominant. Sometimes rajas and tamas overcome the other two, and become predominant. Sattva is the cause of knowledge. Rajas are the cause of greed, desire for enjoyment, enterprise, action, and continuation of action. An action promoted by sattva produces pure pleasures; that promoted by rajas produces pain; that promoted by tamas produces ignorance. The gunas constitute the internal organs – manas, buddhi and ahamkara. They move the individual selves to action.

Prakriti and the individual self (purusas) both are uncaused and eternal. God is eternal. He is the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe through his two-fold nature (prakriti) subjective and objective. Prakriti is the material cause of all physical and psychical phenomena. Puruda, the individual self, is the enjoyer of pleasures and pain, and the experiencer of all physical and psychical objects. It enjoys sttva, rajas and tamas, the products of prakriti, through the psychophysical organism. Its attachmant to the gunas binds it to samaras, and makes it transmigrate from one body to another. The supreme self, immanent in it, is the indifferent spectator, perimeter, sustainer, and witness of all actions of the individual self. The Gita agrees with the Katha Upanisad that the individual self in the body is the enjoyer of fruits of actions, while the Supreme Self is not affected by the gunas, because it transcends them. It is not moved by them. The are the cause of actions. The gunas constitute the empirical nature of the individual self. The universal self-immanent in it transcends them. It is the Supreme Self of all creatures. It is not active. It is not touched by actions of the individual self. It neither acts nor apprehends objects. The sense organs act on their proper objects.

The gunas constitute the sensible objects and the sense organs. Egoism is made of the gunas. The self-determined by egoism wrongly thinks itself to be a free doer. God dwells in the hearts of all creatures. He moves them to action by his Maya, and guides them as His instruments. The individual self (jiva) is an eternal, permanent, ancient, indestructible and immortal. It is inexhaustible, omnipresent, stable immobile, incorporeal, unproduced, indestructible, incorruptible and immutable.  It is unthinkable, insensible and umanifest. The self is rational and sentient. The rational self can control, regulate and conquer the sentient self. The lower self is rational and sentient. The rational self can control, regulate, and conquer the sentient self. The lower self should be delivered from samsara by the higher self. The implies the freedom of the will. Every individual acts according to his psychical disposition made of sattva, rajas and tamas. His action springs from his inner nature, and conform to it. But he is not completely determined by his empirical nature. He has the power of counteracting his natural impulses and desires, and realizing his supra organic, supramental, spiritual nature. The sever ethical discipline enjoined by the Gita implies human freedom. It appears to recognize empirical necessity and spiritual freedom of human soul.
Both one and many are real. One is divided into many. The finite souls are real. They are unborn and eternal. They exist in God, and He exists in them. One exists in many. Many are not appearances of one. Both are inseparably related to each other. God and the finite souls are co-eternal with each other. Affinity with God is the highest consummation of man.

Ethics and Religion
The Gita is not a book on metaphysics, but essentially one on ethics and religion. It lays down the different paths of realization of God.                                     

It teaching is universal and intend for all persons of different temperaments. Some are predominantly men of action. They ought to follow the path of action (Karmayoga). Some are predominantly emotional. They ought to follow the devotion (bhaktiyoga). Some are some are predominantly intellectual. They ought to follow the path of knowledge (jinanyoga). Action, devotion, and knowledge lead to union with god. God realization is the highest good. It is the supreme end of human life. No relative good can satisfy the aspiration of a finite soul, which is informed by the divine Spirit.

The Gita uses the term yoga in the sense of union with god. It teaches the paths of union through works, knowledge, and devotion. Voluntary actions are due to five conditions, the active individual self, the organism, the sense organs various conscious efforts and bodily movements, and providence. Man cannot remain inactive for a single moment. He is complled to do actions by sattva, rajas, and tamas, which are products of prakriti. They are primordial psychical impulses. Even the maintenance of the organism depends upon actions. Even the maintence of the organism depends upon actions. So an action is certaintly better than inaction. The Gita doesnot teach inactivism. It regards the performance of duties as better than renunciation of actions, because the latter never leads to liberation. It inclulates selfness, disinterested action (niskama karma) dedicated to God. Works should not be actuated by attachment, aversion and other emotions. They should not be motivated by egoistic desires. They should be devoid of the sense of I and 'mine'. They should be free from prudentical considerations of fruits or consequences. They ought to be performed without consideration of successes or failure, victory or defeat, good or evil, pleasure or pain, which they will bring. Their fruits should be resigned to God. All works should be done as service to God. Disinterested works dedicated to God and enlightened by knowledge do not lead to bondage. The aspirant's will should be surrender to the Divine Will. He should be a perfect instrument of God, and consciously will the divine will. He should aim at the good of the entire sentient creation. The doer of good of mankind never suffers here or hereafter. The path of works is selfless pursuit of the moral good of mankind as service to god.

The Gita doesn't enjoin the performance of ritualistic acts. Prudential duties are intend for the fulfillment of egoistic desires. They aim at enjoyment and prosperity. They are not the means of liberation. The Vedas prescribe duties relating to sattva, rajas, and tamas. But moksa is a state of the soul, which transcends the gunas. It cannot be attained by Vedic rituals. All egoistic desires should be extirpated. Transient pleasures springs from their fulfillment. But realization of the self yields supreme bliss, which is permanent peace. Vedic rituals are not necessary for liberation. The specific duties of an individual ought to be performed without any desire for fruits. When all desires are resigned to god, any desires are performed in a disinterested spirit by an eradicated. It emphasizes the purity of inner life and condemns ritualistic morality. It stresses the performance of duties as service to God. It condemns renunciation of works, and enjoins on us an active life dedicated to God for the moral welfare of humanity. But it is emphatic on the eradication of egoistic desires and evil passions like attachment, aversion, fear, lust, anger, greed, egoism, hypocrisy, pride, self-conceit, sorrow, melancholy and the like. It inculcates the cultivation of the virtues of fearlessness, purity of mind, concentration of the mind on knowledge of the self, charity, sense-control, sacrifice study of the scriptures, penance, straightforwardness, non injury, truthfulness, conquest of anger, renunciation, tranquility, absence of fault-finding, kindness to creatures, greedless ness, softness, modesty, firmness, courage, forgiveness, endurance, cleanliness, non-malevolience non-conceit, steasfastness and self control. Temperance in eating, walking, efforts in activities, sleep and waking leads to happiness. Equanimity or imperturbability in joy and sorrow, gain and loss, victory and defeat, success and failure, is called yoga. Love and hatred, lust and anger, fear and disgust, greed and delusion, pride and envy should be conquered. Enmity should be completely discarded. Good will and amity for all should be cultivated. Reverence for gods, Brahmanas,preceptors, and wise men, cleanliness, straightness, celibacy, non-injury, truthfulness, study of the scriptures, tranquility of mind, contentment, silences, self-control, and purity of heart should be cultivated. .

Self-control is the foundation of moral life. It means restraight of the external cognitive and motor sense organs and the mind. All desires should be directed to the Atman, which is unruffled by them, and thus sublimated and purified. Mere conformity to the moral law in external conduct is not morality. The mind should be purged of evil passions. If the mind meditates on improper sense-objects and enjoys them within, external conformity to the moral law is hypocrisy. The cognitive senses should not be allowed to indulge in improper activities. The external sense organs should be controlled by the mind (manas). The mind is always estless and unsteady. It can be controlled by steadfast practice and steadied like an unflickering flame of light. Then it is cleaned of all unrighteous desires. Duties should be performed with a pure mind free from immoral desires and passions. Persons are divided into four castes according to their qualities. Their vocations are appropriate to their qualities. The members of the society are divided into four castes according to their qualities and functions. The Brahmans, the Ksatriyas, the Vaisyas, and the Sudras ought to perform their specific duties (svadharma) in conformity with their native endowments (svabhava). Their duties are appropriate to their station in society. Their specific duties, which accord with their innate psychical dispositions, constitute their Sahara. They are prescribed for them. They are their natural duties. An individual should never give up his natural and specific duties, and try to perform those of another person. They do not fit in with his natural aptitudes. So they may be pernicious to him. They are not his natural duties, and therefore they will fail to fulfill his mission, and attune him with God. One's own specific duties well done. An individual attains fulfillment of his own specific duties. Dedication of them to God leads to his liberation. He should always do the duties prescribed for him. If he does not perform them, he commits sin.

An aspirant should dedicate all his actions to God. Whatever he does, whatever he eats, whatever he offers in a sacrifice, whatever gifts he makes, and whatever penance he undergoes, he should dedicate to him. They bring him in complete union with God. Divine energy flows into him, and actuates all his actions. He becomes an instrument of divine action.

The Gita teaches the path of knowledge (jinanyoga). The lowest knowledge of one single effect, for instance, an image as God, who is the complete reality. The higher knowledge is the knowledge of different objects as separate from and unconnected with one another. This is popular unscientific knowledge. The highest knowledge of one undivided infinite spirit in the divine existence. One God is immanent in all finite existences. This is the philosophical knowledge of one in many. He who, established in oneness, worships God in all beings, abides in Him, in whatever condition he lives. God is never lost to him, and he is never lost to God. The individual soul with integral knowledge of God in all beings is united with him, and is not lost in him. The aspirants who sees God in all beings, sees them all as equal to himself. He sees them all alike, and treats them all alike. Equality of treatments follows from the mystic vision of God in all beings. The integral knowledge of God in all beings is expressed in universal beneovolence to all without discrimination. It is expressed in love and respect for all human beings.

Janna is knowledge of God derived from the scriptures. It is indirect knowledge. Vijnana is direct and immediate knowledge, mystic vision, or intuition of God. Janna is intellectual knowledge. Vijnana is intuition. Faith is a precondition of knowledge. It can be acquired from the wise, which have a vision of Truth, through humility and reverence, investigation and service. One devoid of faith and knowledge, and tossed in dour perishes. Knowledge dispels doubt, and destroys ignorance and sins. Intuition due to yoga dispels non-discrimination, and fixes the mind on God.

Self –control is the indispensable condition of acquisition of knowledge. Desire and anger are great enemies. They obscure knowledge as smoke covers fire. Knowledge is obscured knowledge is obscured by insatiable desire. Unrighteous desires, which spring from rajas, hinder knowledge. They spring from the external senses, manas, and buddhi. So they must be restained in order to destroy unrighteous desires, which destroy knowledge and intuition. The sense should be controlled by the mind; the mind should be controlled by the intellect; the intellect should be controlled by the self. The lower sentient self should be controlled by the higher rational self. Unrighteous desires can be extirpated by the self by complete sense-restraint and control of mind and intellect. Without absolute self-control knowledge and intuition cannot be acquired.

Constancy in the knowledge of the self and God and insight into the goal of the knowledge of reality constitute true knowledge. The supreme Brahman is the object of true knowledge, which leads to immortality. There is nothing purer than integral knowledge of God in the universe and  the infinite beings. It purges all works of impurities and purifies them. It enlightens devotion to God, and unities the devotee with Him forever. It leads to eternal peace. The knower of Brahman abides in Brahman.

The Gita teaches the path of devotion (bhaktiyoga). Devotion is undivided, single-minded, unswerving love of God. It completely unites the individual self with God. There are four kinds of devotees-distressed, inquisitive, selfish and wise. The distressed devotee prays to God for deliverance from distressed, inquisitive, selfish and wise. The distressed devotee prays to God for deliverance from distress. The inquisitive devotee prays to Him for wealth and other objects of pleasures. The wise devotee knows the nature of God, and prays to Him for His sake. He has single-minded devotion to Him, and is always united with Him. He is united with God, and realizes the supreme goal of life. Those who throw themselves at the mercy of God, completely surrender themselves to Him, and take shelter in him, cross the ocean of Maya, made of sattva, rajas, and tamas. They can transcend the gunas, conquer the natural impulses and desires, and acquire transcendental perfction. Those who are deluded by ignorance, are puffed up by egism, and do not take refuge in God. Those who are attached to God, and take refuge in him, and ,make incessant efforts for release from old age and death, know the supreme Brahman. The devotee dedicates all his works to God,m takes refuge in Him, and realize the infinite and eternal status through His grace. He fixes his mind on God, dedicates all his works to Him, makes Him the only end of his life, and overcomes all difficulties through His grace. Complete surrender to God and taking refuge in him are essential to the culture of devotion. The grace of God is its cardinal doctrine. He cannot be attained through the study of the Vedas, performance of sacrifices, charity, rituals and severe austerities. He can be known in his real nature by undivided devotion. The devotee dedicates all his works to God, cleanses his mind of attachment and aversion, makes him the only end of his life, and attains Him.

The devotee of God is always contented. He is unaffected by joy and sorrow, fear and anxiety. He does not cause pain to others. He is not affected by praise and dispraise. He can endure hardships. He is devoid of attachment and aversion. He is pure in body and mind. His mind is always fixed on God. He has undivided and unswerving devotion to him. He conquerors his natural desires, and attains affinity with God. He has compassion and good will for all creatures. He possesses perfect tranquility and equanimity. He is detached from all egoistic works. He gives up works leading to good and evil. His life is suffused with the divine spirit. There is complete union of the loving soul with beloved Lord. They abide in each other. God abides in the loving soul, with the beloved lord. They abide in each other. God abides in the loving soul, and it abides in him after death.

God accepts whatever the pure-hearted devotee offers him with devotion. He is impartial to all creatures. None is dear to him. None is hated by him. But those who worship him with devotion abide in him, and he abides in them. Even if a very vicious worships him with undivided mind, he ought to be regarded as a saint, attains eternal peace. The devotee of God never perishes. The path of devotion is open to all, irrespective of castes or sex. God takes all his devotees into his bosom. His all-embracing love knows no distinction. Only he demands unconditional surrender to him and undivided and unflinching devotion and love for him. God looks after the welfare of his devotees, who worship him with single-minded devotion, and who are always united with him. He destroys their ignorance due to tamas, and illumines their minds with knowledge. He gives them knowledge, which leads to attainment of him.

The threefold path of works, knowledge and devotion imply one another. The aspirant who dedicates all his works to God without attachment and thought of consequence, free from egoism, knows him and love him. He who knows God in all beings and all beings in God, dedicates all his works to Him, and is devotes to him. He who loves God with single-minded devotion, performs all works for his sake, knows him in his real nature. The three paths emphasize the different aspects of spiritual discipline in accordance with the temperaments of the aspirants. An enlightens intellect, a pure heart, and a holy will go together. A man does not live in compartments. His knowledge emotion and will are purified together. His whole beings turns towards God, and is transmuted by his living presence in his soul. He has mystics vision and consuming love of God. His will pulsates with Divine will, and works as a perfect instruments of God. Liberation (moksa) is the supreme goal. It is the supreme abode. It is the highest status beyond good and evil. It is the permanent status. It is the eternal and indestructible status. It is the seat free from all troubles. It is free from birth and death. It is absolutely free from pain. It is supreme perfection. It is transcendental perfection of the individual self, which is not affected by the natural desires due to sattva, rajas and tamas. First rajas and tamas are over come by sattva, which actuates the aspirant's mind. Then the sattva also is transcended by him. He becomes absolutely pure, and rises above virtues and vice, good and evil. Moksa is abiding in Brahman. It is extinction of egoism in Brahman. It is not dissolution of integrity can never be lost. Moksa consits in beings Brahman. Beings Brahman does not mean identity with Brahman. It means attaintment of qualitative similarity with Brahman or God. Moksa is attainment of the nature of God. Moksa is transcendental state of immortality. It is life eternal. It is the highest goal. It is the attainment of God. It is inseperable union with him. God abides in the individual souls devoted to him. They abide in him. Moksa is not extinction of the individual soul in God. It is affinity with him in essential nature.

Moksa is supreme quietude and the highest bliss, which spring from union with God. It is delight in the self, contentment with the self, self-satisfaction, and self-fulfillment. It is free fr om moral obligation; no duties are to be performed in the highest state. It is a state of non-action. The liberation person neither acts nor cause others to act. He may work for the good of humanity without moral obligation. But he has no duties to perform. Moksa is perfect tranquility and desirelessness. It is total destruction of egoism. It is living in God. It is transmulation of the individual soul by God. It is transformation of human life into divine life. It is indissoluble union with God.

1 comments:

Scotty on January 6, 2012 at 1:30 AM said...

Bhagavad Geeta notes in Hindi bhagvadgeetanotes.blogspot.com.

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