Discourse by Poojya Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji at the 8th Gita Conference in Bangalore.
On Sunday the 28th Nov 2010, Poojya Datta Vijayananda Swamiji inaugurated the eighth Global Gita Conference organised by the International Gita Foundation trust (r) at the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Mandir, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashrama, Girinagar, Bengaluru. He offered his salutations at the lotus feet of Poojya Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, blessed the assembled delegates and recited a number of slokas praising the glory of the Supreme Power.
Swamiji felt it was appropriate to address the assembled delegates in Kannada as the conference was held in Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka,
To start off he reported that there was no homa conducted on this day at the ashrama. It was the routine of the ashrama set by Poojya Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji that the homa is conducted every day. As the conference was a “Maha Yajna” (great sacrificial rite) there was no need to conduct the homa, he said.
He expressed his happiness at the progress by the trustees of the International Gita Foundation Trust in the conduct of annual Global Gita Conferences since 2003 and was especially happy at the attempts to rekindle the light of spiritual knowledge by encouraging young children to participate at the conferences. It was the “Prerana” (driving force) of Sadguru Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, he stressed.
This 8th conference today at Bangalore was on the eighth chapter, Akshara Parabrahma Yoga and he said it was “Ashta Siddhi”. (Eight accomplishments). This chapter is also known as “Abhyasa Yoga” (yoga of practice)
Swamiji wanted the delegates present to consider that the attendance at the conference was not for the sake of attendance but to understand the true meaning of the slokas from the sacred text and to implement them through practice in the daily life. The eighth chapter is the yoga to lead us in the spiritual path. Just like the parents holding hands of their children and teaching them the art of walking, this chapter will lead the spiritual children in the spiritual path.
Swamiji reminded the delegates that the “Gita Saramu” sung this morning by Sri. Mani and other musicians was the composition by Appaji which summarised the 18 chapters in the Gita into 18 beautiful slokas. The blossom of spirituality takes place on listening to the composition every day, he said.
He dwelt on the blessings sent by Poojya Appaji for the conference and read to the delegates by Swamy Manasa Datta. Appaji was not physically well to come to Bangalore for the conference but his mind is totally on the conference he said. The presence Poojya Appaji is felt in the hall today even though he is not physically present , he expressed.
He dwelt briefly on the titles given for each of the 18 chapters. He said that one may get a doubt if during the battle of Kurukshetra, did Krishna actually stop at the end of each chapter and went on to the next chapter. According to the experts, the Lord did not break his narration at the end of each chapter but it was a continuous flow of thoughts from Him to His disciple Arjuna. But he has indirectly given a hint for the name of each yoga through the beauty of his narration.
The Mahabharata consisting of 18 parvas is known popularly as “Jaya”he said. “Jaya”is symbolic of the number 18. “Jaya”means “victory”and by reading the 18 parvas of Mahabharata we achieve victory in our life. The Gita, incorporated in the Mahabahrata is a tool for victory.
Please do not tell your children that they will get“Moksha”(salvation) by reading the Gita but stress the fact that they will achieve victory. Every field of activity we undertake in this life of ours is full of problems (like thorns in the path). Tell the children that the Gita gives us the capacity to overcome the obstacles at every step. Each obstacle that is overcome is a victory as far as the child is concerned and the sacred text is the tool to guide the children. The words like “Moksha, Ajnana, (ignorance) Moha(delusion) physical body, subtle body etc”is beyond the child’s understanding capacity.
When we have no time even to think about “ajnana”what is the use of discussions on the subject? Majority consider “ajnana as sujnana”(they do not realise their mistakes and while doing the wrong they think that they are doing it right). Let us learn to help the children to find solutions for the problems they face and tell them that the Gita gives the means to success. Once having understood and experienced the benefits, the children will get immense confidence in the Gita for the rest of their lives.
Even for us, the elders, we should approach the sacred text with the belief that the Gita is not only for success in spiritual path but also in the material world we live in. After all the Gita is the summary of all the Upanisads and a narration by the Lord directly to mankind through the medium of Arjuna. We must develop immense faith in the words of the Master.
It teaches us to take the path of righteousness and achieve victory in any field of activity. It is a fact that many a time we fail to get what we strive for. How do we react to this failure?
- We feel sorry for ourselves and cry.
- We feel jealous of the other person who managed to get what we wanted for ourselves.
The victory we achieve by studying and applying the Gita in daily life is not only “Loka Jaya”but also “Atma Jaya.”(victory in material field but also victory in spiritual field.) Let us be clear when we say “Atma jaya”. There is no such thing as victory over yourself. Fulfilment is the victory in.life.
He then talked about “Samjna sadhana”.By this he meant that we would dearly love to achieve victory by learning from others who have achieved victory. Learning by observing others is so such a routine part of our life from childhood itself. Learning from members in one’s own family, from the society is almost a natural act. This is “Sahaja lakshana”(natural quality) for and we find so in the animal kingdom too.
It is a pity that unfortunately instead of learning from observing good people we try to follow the path taken by bad people in the society. We tend to find out how someone became rich overnight and try to imitate his actions.
Some children work hard but feel terribly disappointed when they do not achieve success.
Some others decide to take up the path of unrighteous conduct to achieve success. By this method we not only face problems in this world but the society may even alienate us. We will fail to achieve the goal of spiritual life too.
The present generation do not know the difference between “dharma and adharma.”
In this context the Bhagawadgita is the tool for success in both material world gains and spiritual victory. The 8th chapter we are discussing today is the light that illumines the previous 7 and the next 10 chapters.
Our life starts by learning about letters and the word “Akshara”means “letter.”The spiritual journey has also to start from the sacred word “OM”which is the “Akshara”referred to in this chapter.
Swamiji then went on to explain the significance of the number “18”. He wrote the number on the flip chart and tried to make the delegates understand his explanation.
The digit “1”refers to us, the individuals. If we, the individuals are absent, there is nothing more as far as we are concerned. There is only “0”if we are not there.
The digit “8”is written with two “0”s , one on top of the other. The Vedic mantra “Poorna madaha and poornamidam”was taken up by our Swamiji.
“poornamadaha”(poornam—complete, adah—that)—the top zero on number 8 signifies the physical world and “that”is “Parabrahman”which is always complete.
And “poornamidam”(poornam—complete; idah: this)—bottom zero of number 8 and “this, the body”is complete only when there is Parabrahman.
The two zeros one on top of each other that make the number “8”will be absent for us if we are not present.
This is where we must understand the real significance of the digit“I”. “I”am not existent if the “Parabrahman”is not present within this physical body as the “Living Force”and this “Living force”is the “Atman.”
Number 18, (the 18 chapters in the Gita):
In the presence of this “Living Force”(number “1”in 18) “That”(world) is “complete”and “This”(the physical body) is complete. The two zeros one on top of other that make up number 8 In this sense, the “zeros”(in number 8) signifies “complete”and not empty. “Poornam”means “complete”and in the presence of the Supreme Parabrahman, the world is complete (existent) and we are complete (existent).
Number 108 which is considered as sacred for the Hindus signifies:
The number “0”has no value on its own. But if it is preceded by numbers, its value enhances. (examples: 10, 100, 1000 etc) If we, (0) who are non- existent and no value on our own, are preceded by “1”(“Him”number “1”) the world is complete and we are complete (the two zeros that make up number 8)
We, will be number “1”and if it is so the world around us is complete “0”
Only if God is within us and we, the individuals are complete “0”
Top zero of number 8, it is poornam adam
The bottom zero of 8, it is poornam idam only when we are alive because of presence of God, this becomes “1” and it will be number 18 the Gita is in 18 chapters.
If the God is not within, we are zero
The world around ids zero
We, the individuals are zero
O8 the eight will have no value:there is no world outside(top zero) and we are not alive (bottom zero)
The value for “0”increases if a number is prefixed to it. It can be 10,100,1000etc.
Pre fixing number 1 before 0,
read 108as follows
the value for us increases because of God within us
“8”represents the world around(top zero of 8, poornam adam) and ourselves(bottom zero of 8, poornam idam)
Swamiji then went on to explain briefly about the letter “Om”written in Sanskrit and said that in some ways by minimal modifications the Om in Sanskrit will be like the digit 8.
After this detailed explanation about the significance of number 18, Swamiji went back to the topic on chapter 8 in the Gita. He noted that the introduction to this chapter actually started in the last verse of chapter.7.
The Lord, Jagadguru out of love for His creation has tried to dispel the darkness in us. Swamiji used the words:
Vyajya and Avyaja premaand said the sadguru always has “Avyaja prema”on his disciples. He would like to bring them out of darkness.
Vyajya prema: love for worldly pleasures which are like a business transactions.
Avyaja prema: the love to impart spiritual knowledge into the hearts of mankind has no business motive behind the action.
We are trying to understand chapter 8 so that we can experience the “Ananda”of “Parabrahman”who imparted the “Avyaja prema”through the medium of Arjuna to all of us.
Swamiji at this juncture released the booklet with all the slokas in chapter 8 in Kannada and Gita Saramu in Kannada, English and Sanskrit for the benefit of the devotees, their children, family and friends who would like to learn them. He blessed Sri. KalisaTanwar, a disciple of Appaji.who came to know about the conference the day before and got the booklet ready within 24hrs.
The first sloka of the chapter starts with the word “Arjuna Uvacha”which means “Arjuna said”. Swamiji made it clear that whenever we hear the word “Arjuna Uvacha”in the Gits we must understand that he put questions to Krishna only for the sole purpose of clarifying his doubts and clearing his ignorance. By this action, we can say that he is actually putting forward the questions on behalf of the spiritual seekers who would like to clarify doubts in the discourse by the Lord.
The only sloka which is a statement from Arjuna can be found in chapter 18 when he expresses his satisfaction and said “My doubts are cleared now and O my Lord, I will carry out your command.”
Swamiji wants us all and our children to learn the art of listening carefully to what is taught and ask questions only for the sole purpose of clarifying genuine doubts. Learn the art of “single pointed concentration while learning the sacred text”he advocates.Incomplete listening and partial understanding leads to misunderstanding of the discourse. He quoted the slokas “Yada Yada hi dharmasya and Sarva Dharmaan Parityajya”which are the slokas that are not understood by majority.
In this kali yuga, the Lord does not come down with all his apparel as Krishna, Rama etc to annihilate the asuras because there are no asuras as such. What we have is “asuric tendencies”in the form of “ignorance”and to destroy this evil, the lord comes down in the form of “Sadguru”. He comes down in the indirect form of a Sadguru as we have no power to recognise Him as such if He comes down to earth.
Arjuna put forward the questions “what is adhibhoota, adhidaiva, adhiyajna, what is karma”. In this 8th chapter, Arjuna puts forward 8 questions to His Lord.
Swamiji then said that the conference was held in Karya Siddhi Hanuman temple at Girinagar, Bengaluru. He brought it to the notice of the devotees that we worship Lord Hanuman for the fulfilment of the following eight wishes:
Buddhi, Balam, yashas, Dhairyam,Nirbhayatvam, Arogyata,Ajadvam and Vaksiddhi.
The first question by Arjuna was:
Kim tad Brahma?
What is that “Brahma”?
This question does not come easily from us, the common folk. This is because we are caught in the mesh known as “Maya Jala”. We are enjoying bouncing on this so called spring board of “maya”. We must learn the art of slowly decelerations from the spring board and have a desire to attain unity with Brahman. To do so we must know what is Brahman and this question has been put forward by Arjuna.
Swamiji recited the 3rd sloka from this chapter and said that “Brahman”is Supreme and imperishable and his essential nature is called “Self-knowledge.”Krishna’s reply to the question “Kim tad Brahma”was “Akshara”and this answer also included the essential quality of Brahman. “Akshara”means “that which does not perish”.
“Aksharabhyasa”is the name given to the samskara ( ritualistic tradition) which is teaching to write and pronounce the alphabets for the young children. The alphabets thus learnt will remain imperishable for the rest of the life of that child and hence the name for the ritual “Aksharabhyasa.”
Sri Krishna is giving“Aksharabhyasa”to Arjuna and this is true spiritual teaching. Everything in this world has a birth and death except “Brahman”which is the only “Imperishable”. Swamiji said that whatever is seen now is bound to perish sooner or later and the Sanskrit word for it was“Yadrushyam tan nashyati”The entity from which everything arises in this material world and into which it enters back at the end is known as “Paramatma”. This is the only “Imperishable”and hence the word “Akshara.”
Bhagawatpada Sri Shanakaracharya explains in his bhashya about the Supreme: as “Na ksharati its aksharam”.(It does not perish and hence it is akshara.) Swamiji reiterated the fact that there is no gender attached to this “Supreme Imperishable”and hence the usage of the word “Tat”. We the humans visualise “Tat”in various forms like Krishna, Rama, Jesus etc. The nature/tatva of this Supreme is imperishable. The names/gender attached to this is according to the Bhakti/love of the devotee.
Swamiji used the example of the present day tool used by many—“the computers.”We get all the letters from the computer and make words, essays etc. Many a times we delete few letters/words. Where did all these come and where do all these go?
The Supreme is like the computer,’s microchip.Various forms arise from Him and enter into Him but we do not see Him.
There are very few who actually strive sincerely to go back to Him and become one with Him and we call them as “Paramahamsa.”The rest have to go through the process of births and deaths before we unite with Him. Each one of us has a right to unite with Him but we have to have an urge and make efforts to do so. We can also be “Paramahamsas”It is like the child eagerly wanting to go back to parents after school, the workers in the office wanting to go back home to meet the family.We all have come to work on this earth and we should have to develop the urge to go back to where we have come from.
“Twameva maata, pita tvam eva, tvameva bandhuhu cha sakha tvameva., tvameva sarvam mama deva deva”(“You are the mother, you are the father, you are relative and you are the friend, you are my Lord in all respects”) should be the attitude of the seekers wanting to unite with Him.
Krishna is trying to dispel the fear of Arjuna who was worried about the death of so many near and dear ones during the battle. Akshara parabrahma Yoga by the Lord was to dispel that fear (out of ignorance of the Self) and is to dispel our fears and help us to unite with Him.
The essence of this yoga is to dispel the fear to face the battle of life.
A person may be an excellent scholar but the stage fear will not help him to show his knowledge.
Students have found that their best efforts all through the year have failed because of fear on entering examination hall.
The one who has no fear is capable of achieving anything.
The true meaning of the word “Akshara”used in the context of this yoga is not“Omkara or Beejakshara”the word was not used by Lord Krishna with the bhavana (feeling) of “Omkara.”the “Akshara”is “Brahma tatva”(essence of Brahma.)
After giving this reply in a nutshell “Aksharam Brahma”, Sri Krishna goes on to answer another question Arjuna had put on at the beginning of the chapter.
Arjuna had asked in sloka 3:
Prayana Kale cha katham jneyosi niyatatmabhihi”which means,
How, at the time of death are you to be known by the self-controlled?
It is a very pertinent question applicable in the life of all, be it a King or a beggar, Be it a wicked or a very saintly person, at the time of death this question is bound to come. It is therefore essential that every individual despite his/her age, position in the society tries to analytically find an answer to this question by proper analysis. One should be inquisitive to find out the answer for“What is my future after this birth? Is it not true that each one is eagerly looking for what happiness he is going to get the next moment in his life? We put our best efforts today to experience happiness for tomorrow. Security and happiness for the ‘morrow to come is thought of by most of us.
The moola or the beginning for all is “how to get happiness for tomorrow?”(bhavishyat sukha) and bhavishyat chinta (thought of tomorrow.)”The sad part is that while we think of happiness of the ‘morrow to come, we do not consider about the next birth in the series of births and deaths we have to undergo.
But we do not discuss or think about the happiness after the death of this physical body of ours. The physical body of ours (sthoola sharira) will not go to the next world but the subtle body and causal body do move on to the next world.
Do not take it as Vedanata and get frightened. Please accept this as“The Truth”(satyam)
“Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma”is the description of Parabrahman.Brahman is “The Truth, the Knowledge and is Infinite) It is “Vedanta Prajna”(true understanding of Vedanta) Unless we get the true understanding of this eternal saying, the world will not move in the path of righteousness.
If the idea of future births is not accepted will there be a real need to act righteously in this birth? The attitude will be “let me enjoy today”.
None of us are eternal and we have to leave this world one day or the other. The life span may vary from individual to individual but the day of death has to come in everyone’s life.
Just like we work for happiness for the ‘morrow to come, we should work for the happiness for the life after this birth.The Brahman is “Infinite Happiness”and the only source of eternal happiness is by uniting with Him. We should therefore know how to remember “The Brahman”at the time of death.
We have to take a mode of transport in our journey from place “a”to place “b”. The journey depends upon the type of transport we take.
To reach the destination “Brahman”what transport we should take? How do we get to Him quickly and easily?
We, the devotees of Poojya Swamiji have boarded the “Pushpaka Vimana”(aerial car, mythologically belonging to Kubera, the Exchequer for the Devas. This was taken by force by demon Ravana, won by Sri Rama who returned it to Kubera at the end.) This mythical plane is said to take the passengers to the destination of their wish. The sincere devotees of Poojya Swamiji are on this special plane already and by the blessings of Swamiji we will attain Moksha.
Just by sitting on this plane should not make us proud. A moment’s lapse would end in a nasty fall form great heights. We must be wearing the strong seat belts to keep us secure on the seat in the plane we have boarded. How not to fall down?
To enable us to make our spiritual journey safe, Sri Krishna gave the answer to the question by Arjuna.
The question put forward by Arjuna was:
Prayanakale cha katham jneyosi niyatatmanaha?
Sri Krishna through sloka 10 said:
Prayana kale manasa smarena bhaktya yukto yogabalena cha
At the time of death, by the power of yoga —. Bt giving us the Brahma Tatva “Aksharam BrahmaParamam”Sri Krishna has given us the means to be secure for our next step in the journey of life.
To help us to reach that destination, to get us the vision of the Parabrahman, Sri Krishna has given the “Pranava Akshara”which is “Omkara.”The meditation on “Omkara”should be initiated by the Guru. (Guru upadesha) because it is the most powerful mantra.
This will take us automatically in the path of “Vairagya”(detachment) even without our will.
Today we are going to discuss on this “Omkara”. As we are conducting the “Jnana Yagna”there is no blemish attached for us to discuss about “Omkara”without being initiated by Guru.
Many of us prefix the mantras with the letter “Om”.We say Om Nama Shivaya, Om Namo Ganapataye etc. We use it in many bhajans we sing. There is no blemish attached by using the “Omkara”in these situations.
Swamiji made the delegates chant the Omkara 5times.
Talking about the significance of Omkara Swamiji said that the sastras recommend japa of the sacred mantra 32000 times which will bestow great punya.
Swamiji repeated the sloka 6 and gave its explanation.:
Yam yam smaran bhavam tyajatyante kalebaram
Tam tamevaiti kounteya sada tad Bhava bhavitaha
O kounteya, whosoever leaves the body, thinking of whatever object, form or being at the end, to that only he goes, because of his constant thought of “that”.
Swamiji said that the great yogis leave the body with the thought fixed on “Omkara”
He said that the word “Pranava”has “nava”in it and the word “nava”means “boat/ship.”We use the ship to cross the ocean and take us to the other shore. Pranava is a special ship. Swamiji used the word “ship”and said that we develop friendship with the “Omkara”,with the blessings and guidance by Sadguru, it will take us to the abode of Supreme Purusha. “Pranava”has the power to take us to “Paramdhama”, the abode of the Supreme. It helps us to cross the ocean called “samsara”.
Swamiji told the delegates that the gotra of Omkara is “latavyasa.”As it brings us near the Supreme it is “Latavyasa.””Moksha”is the experience of the Supreme Bliss and Omkara has the power to get us that Bliss. That which does not talk of Omkara is not a sastra at all, Swamiji said.
Using the flip chart, Swamiji then described in detail about the letter “Om”written in Sanskrit.
Concerning writing the letter “Om” Swamiji made the following statement:
There is a tradition of writing the letter “Om”. We should be inquisitive to find out where this tradition has come from and not blindly accept just because so and so said it. (this was brought out in the talk because there are some who write the letter “Om” different to the traditional way and argue that there way of writing is correct) and showed us the way to write it on the flip chart. Writing it differently saying that so and so said it, it does not make it correct. At the same time, saying it is a new way of writing the letter is also not correct and we should not accept it.
Swamiji said that saint poet Tukaram has written an “abhang” on Omkara. He has said in that abhang that the Omkara is Pancha Brahmatmaka and represents five “Brahmas.”
The five Brahmas are:
There is a mantra which says that the Divine Mother sits on five Brahmas.
Swamiji recited sloka 13:
Om ityekaksharam Brahma vyaharan mam anusmaran
Yah prayati tyajan deham sa yanti paramam gatim
Repeating the one syllabled OM—the symbol of Brahma—remembers Me at the time of death, he attains the Supreme Goal.
Swamiji wrote the syllable on the chart.
Firstly we write the digit “3”—this is symbolic of “Manu Brahma.”
The first part of the curve from the middle of the “3” is considered to be a danda and symbolic of “Maya Brahma”
The actual curve/tail is known as “tunda” and is symbolic of “Twashtra Brahma”.
The half moon on the top is symbolic of “Shilpi Brahma”
The “Bindu” (dot) on top of half moon is symbolic of “Daivajna Brahma.”
This is from Padma Purana and is what Sant Tukaram said in his abhang, Swami told the delegates.
So the way to write the syllable “OM” has come from Padma Purana which is from the Upanisads and we must write it the way Upanisads have told us.
Om ityekshaksharam Brahma, etad alambanam param, etad evaksharam shreshtam, etad jnatva vimuchyate
He who sees this Omkara, hears about Omkara, recollects the Omkara, all their problems in life will be solved. This has been said by Lord of Death, Yama in Kathopanisad to the young Nachiketa.
May the anugraha of Omkara, anugraha of Paramatma be on all of you, let all your difficulties in your life be cleared totally. Finally let the total blessings of Sadguru and Paramatma be on all the members of the International Gita Foundation trust.
May the tatva of the Akshara become clear to you all and blessings of Sadguru Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamy.
Jai Guru datta, Sri Guru datta,
Swamiji ended his spiritual discourse with the peace words “Om Shantihi Shantihi shantihi.