The Wisdom Of The Gita, Bhagavatam And The Vedas – 7

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna speaks of himself as the true well-wisher of all living beings, but he also identifies himself with time and with death: I come as time and destroy all the worlds. As death, I take away all.

The Vedanta Sutras begin by saying that amidst all the words we talk, real talking begins when we inquire about the Absolute, or the source of everything. The Bhagavatam says that this one absolute is realised in three phases: the impersonal all-pervading reality, the Supersoul – the indwelling presence of God within one’s heart and finally, the Personality of Godhead, the supreme reality in a divine personal form.

The Bhagavatam further distinguishes between words that are empty and useless and those that have substantial value. It says:

na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśikkṣayāḥ

Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yat
śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.

In the Bhagavatam, the young king Parikshit, when cursed to die within seven days, left everything and went to the bank of the Ganges. There, he asked Sukadeva, the great sage: What is that a man should do in this life, and especially a man about to die? In a sense, everybody is going to die and most usually do not know when. Hence this question is most appropriate. The sage said: This is the most apt question. However, most people do not ask this question. Blind to the truth of the self, they spend their time engrossed in sleeping, mating or looking for money. They rely on people and things who are definitely going to be gone – body, children, spouse, friends, relatives, career, home etc, all of them fallible and temporary. One who wants to be free of all fear should hear about, speak about and remember the Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul, who takes all miseries and illusions away. Whether by understanding of matter and spirit, by practice of mystic yoga, or by doing whatever one is meant to do, the highest perfection to be gained in human life is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end. The Personality of Godhead includes the impersonal all-pervading truth and the Supersoul within each and is beyond this and all other realities as a supremely attractive divine and transcendent Person. So one should think of Krishna as the divine person at all times and this is to turn from darkness to good, unreal to the real and from death to immortality.

The Bhagavatam says: After many, many births one achieves this rare human form, and though not permanent it can enable one to attain the highest perfection, Therefore, one should strive for the ultimate perfection and not just sense gratification, which can be had in any species. Death is not the end, as the Gita says: Just as the embodied soul continually passes, in the present body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul passes into another body at death. So one should not be afraid of death but rather utilise this opportunity in a human body to go back to Krishna, to the Divine.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna to take him to the middle of the battlefield and look at both the armies. On seeing his teachers and relative on the opposite side, he despairs and says that rather than fight with them, he would rather accept defeat. He does not know what to do and hence he turns toward Krishna for advice, and Krishna first says: You are mourning for what is not worthy of grief and then goes on the speak the Bhagavad Gita, at the end of which, Arjuna understand the reality and agrees to fight.

The Bhagavad Gita says that from anger, bewilderment arises and this leads to illusion and ultimately misery. The Bhagavatam says: As the world is now, so it was in the past and so it will be in the future. Birth, death, disease and old age exist. Hence true wisdom is to get out of this state  and return to freedom, to our natural spiritual state.

The Vedic literature says that one should gain wisdom as an inheritance passed down from previous generations, from teacher to student, from master to disciple. The Bhagavad Gita says: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a genuine, self-realized spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth. Krishna says: I originally spoke this imperishable science of yoga to the lord of the sun who in turn imparted it to Manu and Manu imparted it to Ikshvaaku. Thus the knowledge of yoga was received in a line of succession and sagacious kings understood it this way.

The Bhagavatam says the human beings who simply live to prolong their lives, to go on breathing, to eat and have sex are hardly better than animals, because they do the same as animals do, only a bit more refined. True wisdom is to understand the ultimate source of everything, or the ultimate refuge of everything. The source of everything is ultimately the Supreme. This Supreme is the impersonal all-pervading truth, the Supersoul within each and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Krishna encompasses everything else and is therefore the ultimate Source or Refuge of everything.  Everything else is just his energy.

The Bhagavad Gita says: This material world is a crooked version of the spiritual world like a banyan tree whose roots are upwards and branches below. This material world is an imperfect reflection of the spiritual world. We cannot find perfection here. So we need to be detached. The Bhagavad Gita says that this means one should not rejoice when one obtains what is pleasing or be disturbed when things go the other way. Rather, with steady intelligence one should remember one’s identity as an eternal part of the Supreme and not be bewildered by falsely identifying oneself with the temporary material body. Those who in this way see themselves in relationship with the Supreme are already situated in transcendence. Detached from outward happiness and distress, they enjoy happiness from within, and because they connect themselves with the Supreme, the happiness they enjoy is without limits. If we try to want we become bewildered. As Bhishma says in the Bhagavatam: No one can know the plan of the Lord. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered.


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