The Philosophy of Bhagawad-Gita/Third Lecture

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IN this lecture I shall consider the premises I have laid down with special reference to the various passages in which they seem to be indicated in this book.

It will be remembered that I started with the very first cause, which I called Parabrahmam. Any positive definition of this principle is of course impossible, and a negative definition is all that can be attempted from the very nature of the case. It is generally believed, at any rate by a certain class of philosophers, that Krshna himself is Parabrahmam— that he is the personal God who is Parabrahmam— but the words used by Krshna in speaking of Parabrahmam, and the way in which he deals with the subject, clearly show that he draws a distinction between himself and Parabrahmam.

No doubt he is a manifestation of Parabrahmam, as every Logos is. And Pratyagatma is Parabrahmam in the sense in which that proposition is laid down by the Adwaitis. This statement is at the bottom of all Adwaiti philosophy, but is very often misunderstood. When Adwaitis say "Ahameva Parabrahmam ", they do not mean to say that this ahankaram (egotism) is Parabrahmam, but that the only true self in the cosmos, which is the Logos or Pratyagatma, is a manifestation of Parabrahmam.

It will be noticed that when Krshna is speaking of himself he never uses the word Parabrahmam, but places himself in the position of Pratyagatma, and it is from this standpoint that we constantly find him speaking. Whenever he speaks of Pratyagatma, he speaks of himself, and whenever he speaks of Parabrahmam, he speaks of it as being something different from himself.

I will now go through all the passages in which reference is made to Parabrahmam in this book. The first passage to which I shall call your attention is chapter viii, verse 3:

The eternal spirit is the Supreme Brahma. Its condition as Pratyagatma is called Adhyatma. Action which leads to incarnated existence is denoted by Karma.

Here the only words used to denote Parabrahmam are Aksharam and Brahma. These are the words he generally uses. You will notice that he does not in any place call it Ishvara or Maheshvara; he does not even allude to it

often as Atma. Even the term Paramatma he applies to himself, and not to Parabrahmam. I believe that the reason for this is that the word Atma, strictly speaking, means the same thing as self, that idea of self being in no way connected with Parabrahmam. This idea of self first comes into existence with

the Logos, and not before; hence Parabrahmam ought not to be called Paramatma or any kind of Atma. In one place only, Krshna, speaking of Parabrahmam, says that it is his Atma. Except in that case he nowhere uses the word Atma or Paramatma in speaking of Parabrahmam. Strictly speaking Parabrahmam is the very foundation of the highest self. Paramatma is, however, a term also applied to Parabrahmam as distinguished from Pratyagatma. When thus applied it is used in a strictly technical sense. Whenever the term Pratyagatma is used, you will find Paramatma used as expressing something distinct from it.

It must not be supposed that either the ego, or any idea of self, can be associated with, or be considered as inherent in Parabrahmam. Perhaps it may be said that the idea of self is latent in Parabrahmam, as everything is latent in it; and, if on that account you connect the idea of self with Parabrahmam you will be quite justified in applying the term Paramatma to Parabrahmam. But to avoid confusion it is much better to use our words in a clear sense, and to give to each a distinct connotation about which there can be no dispute. Turn now to chapter viii, verse 11:

I will briefly explain to thee that place(padam) which those who know the Vedas describe as indestructible (oksharam), which the ascetics, who are free from desire, enter, and which is the desired destination of those who observe Brahmacharyam.


Here we find another word used by Krshna when speaking of Parabrahmam. He calls it his padam—the adobe of bliss or Nirvana. When he calls Parabrahmam his padam or abode, he does not mean vaikuntha loka or any other kind of loka; he speaks of it as his abode, because it is in the bosom of Parabrahmam that the Logos resides. He refers to Parabrahmam as the abode of bliss, wherein resides eternally the Logos, manifested or unmanifested. Again turn to chapter viii, verse 21:

That which is stated to be unmanifested and immutable is spoken of as the highest condition to be reached. That place from which there is no return for those who reach it is my supreme abode.

Here the same kind of language is used, and the reference is to Parabrahmam. When any soul is absorbed into the Logos, or reaches the Logos, it may be said to have reached Parabrahmam, which is the centre of the Logos; and, as the Logos resides in the bosom of Parabrahmam, when the soul reaches the Logos it reaches Parabrahmam also.

Here you will notice that he again speaks of Parabrahmam as his abode.

Turn now to chapter ix, verses 4, 5 and 6:

The whole of this Universe is pervaded by me in my

unmanifested form (Avyaktamurti). I am thus the support of all the manifested existence, but I am not supported by them. Look at my condition when manifested as Ishvara (Logos): these phenomenal manifestations are not within me. My Atma (however) is the foundation and

the origin of manifested beings, though it does not exist in combination with them. Conceive that all the manifested beings are within me, just as the atmosphere spreading everywhere is always in space.

In my last lecture I tried to explain the mysterious connection between Parabrahmam and Mulaprakrti. Parabrahmam is never differentiated. What is differentiated is Mulaprakrti, which is sometimes called Avyaktam, and in other places, Kutastham, which means simply the undifferentiated Element. Nevertheless Parabrahmam seems to be the one foundation for all physical phenomena, or for all phenomena that are generally referred to Mulaprakrti. After all, any material object is nothing more than a bundle of attributes to us. Either on account of an innate propensity within us, or as a matter of inference, we always suppose that there is a non-ego, which has this bundle of attributes superimposed upon it, and which is the basis of all these attributes. Were it not for this essence, there could be no physical body. But these attributes do not spring from Parabrahmam itself, but from Mulaprakrti which is its veil; Mulaprakrti is the veil of Parabrahmam. It is not Parabrahmam itself, but merely its appearance. It is purely

phenomenal. It is no doubt far more persistent than any other kind of objective existence. Being the first mode or manifestation of the only absolute and unconditioned reality, it seems to be the basis of all subsequent manifestations. Speaking of this aspect of Parabrahmam, Krshna says that the

whole cosmos is pervaded by it, which is his Avyakta form.

Thus he speaks of Parabrahmam as his Avyaktamurti, because Parabrahmam is unknowable, and only becomes knowable when manifesting itself as the Logos or Ishvara. Here he is trying to indicate that Parabrahmam is the Avyaktamurti of the Logos as it is the Atma of the Logos, which is everywhere present, since it is the Atma of the universe, and which appears differentiated--when manifested in the shape of the various Logoi working in the cosmos, though in itself it is undifferentiated-- and which, though the basis of all phenomenal manifestations, does not partake of the vikarams of those phenomenal manifestations.

Refer now to chap. xii, verses 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.[1]

Here again, in speaking of Parabrahmam in verses 15, 16 and 17, Krshna is laying down a proposition which I have already explained at length. I need not now go minutely into the meaning of these verses, for you can very easily ascertain them from the commentaries.

Turn to chapter xiv, verse 27:

I am the image or the seat of the immortal and indestructible Brahma of eternal law and of undisturbed happiness.

Here Krshna is referring to himself as a manifestation or image of Parabrahmam. He says he is Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/84 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/85 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/86 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/87 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/88 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/89 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/90 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/91 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/92 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/93 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/94 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/95 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/96 Page:Philosophy of bhagawad-gita.pdf/97

  1. This and some of the other quotations have been omitted on account of their lenght.--Ep.