The Taittiriya Upanishad speaks of five stages of consciousness.They can be interpreted in one way as follows:
- Annamaya: preoccupation with eating
- Pranamaya: preoccupation with staying alive
- Manomaya: preoccupation with thoughts and philosophical speculations
- Vijnanamaya: understands and experiences true wisdom: one is a part of the Divine
- Anandamaya: realises the eternal relationship between one and the Divine and the Supreme Divine who is all bliss.
The Bhagavad Gita says: For one who is born, death is certain. One who has died is certain to be born yet again. So, before death comes, one should use the time for spiritual realisation because the next destination we achieve will depend on what our consciousness has come to by the time of death.
The theme is Bhagavad Gita is: Serve and remember. Krishna advises us to perform our work with a spirit of detachment, to work simply as a matter of duty and not worry about whether the outcome brings us enjoyment. Enjoyment will come on its own or not. The mission of human life is not to try to enjoy the illusions of this material world ( and become entangled in them) but to become free from them and revive our spiritual nature. One should master his urges, control his senses and learn how to remember – to remember the transitory nature of the material world, to remember his own spiritual identity, and to remember the Supreme, or Krishna.
The Bhagavatam rejects the path of righteous, intelligent, responsible enjoyment as “deceitful dharma”. It does not work because we are not enjoyers of the world. We cannot actually have the enjoyment we hanker. We always get enjoyment and suffering mixed together. Enjoyment mixed with suffering is suffering just like sand mixed with a sweet pudding does not taste well. The more you enjoy, the more empty it seems as satisfaction becomes less and less. If we remember that death will ultimately happen, we cannot enjoy. To enjoy, we have to forget that death will happen and that means we need to become a fool to enjoy. When we can’t enjoy we become angry and frustrated. Enjoyment depends on things like youth, which will finally pass. So enjoyment really does not work. We are also not enjoyers but beings meant to give enjoyment to the Divine, to Krishna. We are parts of the Supreme and we are meant to serve the whole, the Supreme. When we give enjoyment to Krishna, we also enjoy just like the hand enjoy when it gives food to the stomach. Our dharma, our constitutional position, the natural thing we were eternally meant to do is to serve Krishna. This is what is called bhakti and this is joyful as this is what we are meant to do. Attempts for selfish happiness whether for me or extended to include family, friends, country or the world are pointless as one has to see that the real owner is the Supreme and to serve Him means to serve everything else in the right way.
The Bhagavad Gita says that those who aspire to live in the heavenly abodes have only meager intelligence because one still has the same problems even there: birth, death, disease and old age. There is also a problem with just merging into the oneness that many philosophies say, as we do have varieties and different individualities and if these were all due to illusion how did illusion arise if there was only reality. There is already duality: illusion and reality. The endeavour for sense gratification is also a useless waste of time. The true goal of life is bhakti or devotional service to the Divine and surrender to the Divine.
The Gita says: Whatever state of being one remembers when quitting the body that state one will attain without fail. Whoever, at the end of life quits his body remembering me alone at once attains my nature. Of this there is no doubt. This is possible by constant practice of chanting the name of Krishna. Then one can remember Krishna at the the time of death.
The Isopanishad says: Let the temporary body be burnt into ashes and let the air of life be merged with the totality of air. So when we die the physical body gets merged with the dust and the subtle( but still material) life air merges back into a similar universal pool. The true self or consciousness, however exists and continues to take further bodies until it is liberated by devotional service and surrender to the Supreme and reunited with Krishna in eternal loving service.
The Bhagavatam says:
yad arthena vināmuṣya puṁsa ātma-viparyayaḥ
pratīyata upadraṣṭuḥ sva-śiraś chedanādikaḥ
The living entity is in distress regarding his self-identity. He has no factual background, like a man who dreams that he sees his head cut off. A teacher in school once threatened his pupil that he would cut off the pupil’s head and hang it on the wall so that the child could see how his head had been cut off. The child became frightened and stopped his mischief. Similarly, the miseries of the pure soul and the disruption of his self-identification are managed by the external energy of the Lord, which controls those mischievous living entities who want to go against the will of the Lord. Actually there is no bondage or misery for the living entity, nor does he ever lose his pure knowledge. In his pure consciousness, when he thinks a little seriously about his position, he can understand that he is eternally subordinate to the mercy of the Supreme and that his attempt to become one with the Supreme Lord is a false illusion. Life after life the living entity falsely tries to lord it over material nature and become the lord of the material world, but there is no tangible result. At last, when frustrated, he gives up his material activities and tries to become one with the Lord and speculate with much jugglery of words, but without success.These activities are performed under the dictation of the illusory energy. The experience is compared to the experience of one’s having his head cut off in a dream. The man whose head has been cut off also sees that his head has been cut off. If a person’s head is severed he loses his power to see. Therefore if a man sees that his head has been cut off, it means that he thinks like that in hallucination. Similarly a living entity is eternally subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and he has this knowledge with him, but, artificially, he thinks that he is God himself and that although he is God he has lost his knowledge due to māyā. This conception has no meaning, just as there is no meaning to seeing one’s head being cut off. This is the process by which knowledge is covered. And because this artificial rebellious condition of the living entity gives him all troubles, it is to be understood that he should take to his normal life as a devotee of the Lord and be relieved from the misconception of being God. The so-called liberation of thinking oneself God is that last reaction of avidyā by which the living entity is entrapped. The conclusion is that a living entity deprived of eternal transcendental service to the Lord becomes illusioned in many ways. Even in his conditional life he is the eternal servant of the Lord. His servitude under the spell of illusory māyā is also a manifestation of his eternal condition of service. Because he has rebelled against the service of the Lord, he is therefore put in the service of the māyā. He is still serving, but in a perverted manner. When he wants to get out of service under material bondage, he next desires to become one with the Lord. This is another illusion. The best course, therefore, is to surrender unto the Lord and thus get rid of the illusory māyā for good, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Then one can understand what surrender and devotional service truly means and help us go back to the Divine, back to Krishna.
This post concludes this 10 post series on the wisdom from the Gita, Bhagavatam and the Vedas. Sarvam Sri Krishnarpanam Astu.