BG Chapter 4: The Yoga of Knowledge


Bhagavad-Gita: 18 Chapters in Sanskrit


Download Bhagavadgita-all 18 chapters in Sanskrit, English,
transliteration and word for word translation.

Bhagavadgita in English




























bg10-Sanskrit bg11-Sanskrit bg12-Sanskrit
bg13-Sanskrit bg14-Sanskrit bg15-Sanskrit bg16-Sanskrit bg17-Sanskrit




Click Link or COPY AND PASTE

Short Stories


Support Wikipedia  

The popular verse from the Vaiṣṇavīya Tantrasāra makes out that the Gītā restates the central teachings of the Upaniṣads, The Upaniṣads are the cows and the cowherd's son, Kṛṣṇa, is the milker; Arjuna is the calf, the wise man is the drinker and the nectar-like Gītā  is the excellent milk. Excerpt from Bhagavadgita. translation by Dr. Radhakrishnan. page 13.


Veeraswamy Krishnaraj: Tolerance with love is to speak in tongues of all faiths, hold in the heart the Truth of all faiths and see all faiths in the face of humanity.


You have your Google search engine tailored for this site.

Please enter the word(s) in the search box; it will take you to the file with that word in this web site. Enjoy your visit here.


About the author:

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj, M.D; F.R.C.P (Canada) is a board certified pediatrician in active practice until the end of 1998. He immersed himself in study of Hinduism in depth. He has sufficient knowledge and understanding of Hindu religion that he is confident to publish this book. He kept the words simple, supple, illuminating and to the point, while retaining the original flavor, beauty and grace. Compound words in Sanskrit are a nightmare for the beginner, as they are spliced together compactly in one continuous stretch of characters. He parsed the compound words into digestible syllables or words with superscripts and sequential numbers and rearranged the words in the verse in a readable form in English. In this book, he claims ownership of shortcomings and cedes the rest to Bhagavan. 

This book is good for students, and devotees reading the Bhagavad-Gita in Satsang (true company). Two verses nestle in two boxes in one page with no break or carry-over to the next page. Diacritics help the reader enunciate the words like a Sanskritist. The English words are reader-friendly. Wherever there is a need for elaboration, an addendum supports it.

Simplicity, authority, universality, and profundity are the hallmark of the Bhagavadgita, the Bible of the Hindus. The Bhagavadgita is the Song of the Lord. It provides guidelines for daily living with no dogmas and ritual overtones. It encourages and supports your individuality. It also explains the consequence of errant ways. Total surrender to Bhagavan releases the devotee from the ills of life on earth. Hinduism as a term is an external appellation from non-Hindus. Its true name is Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law or Eternal Order) commensurate with Rta (Cosmic Order). The beauty about the Bhagavadgita is its appeal is universal.

Feedback Form

BGALLCOLOR.pdf    3181.08KB (3257428 bytes) Free to download



इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् ।

विवस्वान्मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत् ॥४-१॥

śrībhagavān uvāca: imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākavebravīt 4.1

śrībhagavān uvāca: imam1 vivasvate2 yogam3 proktavān4 aham5 avyayam6
vivasvān7 manave8 prāha9 manuḥ10 ikṣvākave11 abravīt12   4.1

śrībhagavān = Sri Bhagavan; uvāca = said; aham5 = I; proktavān4 = taught; imam1 = this; avyayam6 = Imperishable; yogam3 = Yoga [as explicated in the 2nd and 3rd chapters]; vivasvate2 = to Vivasvan, the Sun-God. vivasvān7 = Vivasvan;  prāha9 = taught; [this] manave8 = to Manu. manuḥ10 = Manu; abravīt12 = communicated [this]  ikṣvākave11 = to Iksvaku.  4.1 

4.1: Sri Bhagavan said: I taught this imperishable yoga to Vivasvat; Vivasvat passed this on to Manu; Manu taught Iksvāku.




Search Wikipedia:



                                                               Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950)

BG Chapter 4: The Yoga of Knowledge

In the third chapter, it is said with reasons that, with reference to an aspirant in whom the bodily impulses are strong, he should practice Karma Yoga alone. He is not qualified for Jñāna Yoga all at once; and even if he is qualified for Jñāna Yoga, the practice of Karma Yoga alone, preceded by contemplation on the self as not an agent of any action, is better. It has also been shown that in respect of a person who is distinguished for his virtues (and is expected to set an example for others), Karma Yoga alone must be practiced by him.

Now in the fourth chapter the need for practicing Karma Yoga is confirmed, as it was taught at the very beginning of the age of Manu for the deliverance of all beings. As it includes knowledge of the self, it is shown that such Karma Yoga includes Jñāna Yoga in its scope. Further, the nature of Karma Yoga with its divisions and the pre-eminence of the knowledge portion in it, is spoken of.  Incidentally the truth about the incarnations of the Lord is also set forth.    --Ramanuja, Gita Bhasyam

4.1: Sri Bhagavan said:

I taught this imperishable yoga to Vivasvat; Vivasvat passed this on to Manu; Manu taught Iksvāku.

This yoga of knowledge passed from the sun god to Manu, from Manu to Iksvāku, father and son lineage. Vivasvān or Vivasvat, the son of Aditi, is the sun god and means “the Brilliant One.” Manu Vaivasvata is Vivasvat's son. Lord Vishnu who came in the form of a fish saved Vivasvata from the Deluge, which is the basis of Vishnu's Matsya Avatāra (Fish incarnation) and Mastya purāna. Does it not remind you of the Deluge and the rescue of Noah, his family, and the animals by God? The words, Manu, the man (the author of the Laws of Manu); and Manas, the mind trace their root in the Sanskrit word “man” [मन्] meaning “to think.” Man is the thinking animal; therefore, the very concept of man came from the Sanskrit word, man.  Sanskrit Man = to think, believe, imagine, suppose, conjecture.--Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary page 783.  The Tamil word, மனிதன் (Manitan) is cognate with the Sanskrit  and the English word 'man'.

Manu = father of human race.  Though he is considered the forefather of human race, very many others preceded him.

In the Laws of Manu (LOM 1500 BCE) , Manu describes how the God Narayana came into Being. Excerpt from Laws of Manu. Translation by George Buhler.

LOM 1.6. Then the divine Self-existent (Svayambhu, himself) indiscernible, (but) making (all) this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible (creative) power, dispelling the darkness.

LOM 1.7. He who can be perceived by the internal organ (alone), who is subtile, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own (will).

LOM 1.8. He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them.

LOM 1.9. That (seed) became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that (egg) he himself was born as Brahman, the progenitor of the whole world.

LOM 1.10. The waters are called narah, (for) the waters are, indeed, the offspring of Nara; as they were his first residence (ayana), he thence is named Narayana.

LOM 1.11. From that (first) cause, which is indiscernible, eternal, and both real and unreal, was produced that male (Purusha), who is famed in this world (under the appellation of) Brahman.


Skanda Purāna praises Nārāyana in the beginning of its first chapter. Nārāyana is 'the one whose abode is waters.'  Others interpret the name as 'the waters whose abode is Nāra.' Brahma-vaivarta  Purāṇa interprets Nāra as 'a form of liberation' called Sārūpya (of the form of the Lord; Beatitude. Mokṣa). Nārāyana is the destroyer of sins. Dr. G.P. Bhatt in Skanda Purāna translation and commentary says that in earlier Viṣṇuism, Viṣṇu and Nārāyana are not identical. Viṣṇu the Vedic god was amalgamated with Nārāyana of Pañcarātra system.  (This statement might be even sacrilegious to the devout Srivaishnavites. Viṣṇu and Nārāyana are one and the same for them.)

Nara is the incarnation of Viṣṇu, the son of Charma and Mūrti, a daughter of Dakṣa


Matsya Avatara of Vishnu took place for saving Manu, the forefather of humanity, from drowning in the Deluge. Manu, upon the advice of Vishnu in anticipation of the Flood, built a float full of seeds of all plants and the sages. Vishnu came along as a mammoth fish, put him in the cavity of his conch shell and pulled him by his hair; Manu surfed and skimmed on the surface of the Flood waters until it became tranquil and shallow.

Iksvāku, the ruler of Ayodhya, was the founder of the solar dynasty and the cultivator of sugarcane, “IKSU.” I understand that Iksvāku was responsible for improving the sugarcane into a sweeter strain by experimentation and was obviously an expert on plant breeding and genetics [unconfirmed]. Avatar: incarnation.

4.2: Thus the knowledge, in a succession, came down to the royal sages who knew it and in the great passage of time, this knowledge was lost, O Parantapa (the oppressor of enemies).

Over ages, Avatārs, sages and teachers descend on this earth to rescue and lift humanity from the fallen condition. In the lineage of sages are Buddha, Ramanujacharya, Sankaracharya, Madhawacharya, and Chaitnya Mahaprabhu.

Lalita Vistara says that when Buddha was in Samadhi, a ring ornament of light of knowledge circled above his head.


4.3: I declared that same ancient yoga of knowledge to you, because you are my devotee and friend. This is the supreme secret. 

Lord Krishna, the Supreme Yogi Himself, passes the ancient truths and secrets to his devotee, friend, and relative, Arjuna. Yogis get their revelation by practicing yoga and becoming one with Brahman. Bhakti section in the Supplement explores the nature of relationship between man and God, of man to God, and of God to man.

Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001), born Robert Hansen also known as Gurudeva by his followers, was born in Oakland, California, on January 5, 1927, and adopted Saivism as a young man.--  Wikipedia  Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami says the following about Vaishnava schools.

"The worship of Vishnu, meaning "pervader," dates back to Vedic times. The Pancharatra and Bhagavata sects were popular prior to 300 bce. Today's five Vaishnava schools emerged in the middle ages, founded by Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha and Chaitanya. Vaishnavism stresses prapatti, single-pointed surrender to Vishnu, or His ten or more incarnations, called avataras."

The one relationship, that is a fast track to God, is Bhakti (devotion). Certain truths, timeless, immemorial, divine, and immutable passed down from teacher or guru to pupil and so on. Buddha, Ramanujacharya, Sankaracharya, Madhawacharya, and Chaitnya Mahaprabhu were restating the old truths with some variations and interpretations. The gurus do not claim any originality, while declaring the doctrine. Ramanujacharya received a Mantra from his guru with a warning not to divulge it to 'vulgar people' (We the people) except the worthy ones. Compassionate Ramanujacharya, revealed it to all the assembled people irrespective of their caste or creed, the first chance he had. His guru forgave him eventually for the obvious indiscretion. That Mantra is "Om Namo Narāyanaya.” Ramanujacharya said that he would risk going to hell by revealing the Mantra against the wishes of his guru, and help many people receive salvation by hearing the Mantra directly from him.

    Qualified Non-dualism = Visishtadvaita


Ramanuja and Sankara agree that Reality is One; for  R the Real has internal complexities (Vishishta, qualified), while S says that Reality is simple. Brahman has three Reals in His Complex (Tattvatraya): Isvara, Cit and Acit. 1. Isvara: The Soul of the Universe, The Transcendent Lord,  (the liberated souls are the Bliss body of the Lord). 2. Cit: a Community of Jivas or individual souls, dependent on Isvara; the subtle body of the Lord. 3. Acit: Prakrti, matter, the Gross body of the Lord. R becomes the strong proponent of Bhakti movement (coming into full fruition) that began with Bhagavad Gita as laid out to Arjuna by Lord Krishna. Vaishnavas regard Ramanuja as the incarnation of Vishvaksena (Vishnu's Commander in chief).

Visishta = distinct, particular, peculiar to . Advaita = non-dual. Visishtadvaita doctrine was first introduced by Yamunacharya (10th Century), also known as Alavandar. Simply put, Visishtadvaita says there is Unity in Diversity. Unity is Brahman and Multiplicity is His Diversity (Cit and Acit).  All diversity or multiplicity subside in and subsume to Brahman but with qualifications. As said earlier, there are Para Brahman (Isvara with attributes), Chit Brahman and Achit Brahman. Everything is Brahman with Isvara being the hypostasis of dependent Chit and Achit. Isvara's body is Chit and Achit, which have an organic relationship with Brahman. Tamil Vaishnavas call Chit Chetanams and Achit Achetanams. A note of caution: Parabrahman of Advaitins (Monist like Sankaracharya) has no attributes while Parabrahman of Vaishnavas has attributes (Kalyana Gunas = auspicious qualities).  Chit = Cit = Chetanam = சேதனம் = चेतन = one endowed with intellect and sentience =  individual souls (We the people).  Achit =Acit = Achetanam = अचेतन = அசேதனம் = matter = unintelligent and insentient matter without consciousness.  Unifying these three entities by integral term and ontology, they are Parabrahman, Chit-brahman, Achit-brahman.





Tattvatraya: (तत्त्वत्रय) [from tattva = reality, essential cosmic element + traya = threefold, triad].  The three primordial elements in the cosmos, according to the Visishtadvaita or modified nondualistic Vedantists are the Logos, its light, and mulaprakriti. Mulaprakriti thus becomes their achit (Acit); the light from the Logos is their chit (Cit); and the Logos itself is their Isvara (Supreme Lord). Chit is not independent by any and all means, and absolutely depends on Isvara. Thus Chit forms the subtle body of Isvara.

Chit or the Jivas come in three flavors: Nityas or nityasuris, Muktas and Baddhas (Eternally free Jivas, erstwhile Samsaris, free now, and the bonded ones (We the people).

Hita: हित = இதம். Means of Realization through Bhakti and Prapatti (Devotion and Surrender).

Purushartha: पुरुषार्त = புருடார்த்தம். aṟam, poruḷ, iṉpam, vīṭu; அறம், பொருள், இன்பம், வீடு = virtue, wealth, sexual love, Liberation.

Liberation or Moksa from bondage.

Isvara is Sariri; body of Isvara is Sarira.  Ri = the owner; ra = the owned object or property.

Sarira-Sariri = Body and Isvara (the owner of the individual souls).   Sesa and Seshi = Servitor and Master.

Sarira = the Body of Isvara, being Chit and Achit.

Seshi = God as the Lord of Mankind.

<<<<<<Brahman By Ramanuja>>>>

'Sarira-sariri ( Sarira = [cit and acit] = sentient souls and insentient matter) is the inseparable body of the Over-Soul Isvara.' The individual soul (Jivatma) is inseparable and integral part of Sarira (Body) of the Supreme, the Universal Soul or Soul of souls. The awakened soul is of the realization that it is part of the Sarira (body) of the Supreme Being.

If you are unfamiliar with terms Sariri, Sarira, Seshi, and Sesha, let me give you a little help to remember. The words that end with I are the Lord. the words that end with A refer to the individual souls of sentient and insentient beings (and matter).  Sariri and Seshi refer to the the Lord (indicates ownership) and Sarira and Sesha refer to the body of the Lord, and the servitors, the individual souls. The individual souls of all beings collectively form the body (Sarira) of the Lord (Sariri).  He is Seshi, the Lord, the Master, and the Owner and we are the Sesha, servitors and slaves. Living entities and matter make the body (Sarira) of the Lord.

mini-MAXI Relationship

embodied soul Vs Universal Soul

mini-MAXI Relationship

embodied soul Vs Universal Soul

mini MAXI mini MAXI
Chit-brahman Parabrahman Chit-brahman Parabrahman
Sarira-Body Sariri-Owner of body Amsa-fragment Amsi-Whole
Sesha-servitor Seshi-Master Sambandha-the Supported Adharadeya-supporter
Prakara-attribute Prakari-mode Niyama-the Controlled Niyanta-the Controller
Raksya-the protected Raksaka-the Protector    


Ramanuja is vehemently opposed to MAyA and AvidyA concept of the Monists. Avidya is spiritual ignorance and has nothing to do with intellectual ignorance. It is not knowing the true nature of Reality which (avidya) keeps us in bondage and in Karma. The opposite of Avidya is Vidya, which is cognate with English Wit. Brahman cannot be the repository of Avidya or ignorance and  MAyA or illusion. Why would Brahman knowingly play with unreal things, unreal implements and unreal products, as the monists regard this phenomenal world is illusory or MAyA? If the individual soul in its essential form and not in its fictitious imagined form is afflicted with Avidya or ignorance, Brahman also is the repository of Avidya (because we the Avidya people make His Body). It is so because Monists says Brahman and souls are identical and souls came from Brahman. One cannot append a tag of Avidya to Brahman. Knowledge, Monists say, destroys ignorance of the soul. Soul is like a patient with a disease (Avidya = अविद्य = spiritual ignorance =அவித்தை). They say knowledge cures the soul. Is it possible that the cure (knowledge) killed the patient (the soul)? That means that Moksa (= the cure, release, liberation) kills the soul. "If it does not, the soul continues to exist different from Brahman."--Dr. Radhakrishnan. If Brahman is omniscient, how could he be burdened with ignorance? If Brahman is Omnipotent, why is there so much misery in the world? Monists say that non-difference (identicalness) comes eventually between Brahman and the individual souls. Before that occurs, the souls are afflicted with upadhis (उपाधि) or limiting adjuncts. Does Brahman know this or not is the question? If Brahman knows this and considers the souls non-different from Him, Brahman Himself suffers the afflictions of all the souls. (This sounds like Jesus Christ's suffering for man.) This leads to the conclusion that Brahman creates what is not beneficial to Himself.

The Bhāgavata  asks us to love the Supreme with all our being, 'Lord made our speech be engaged in recounting your (God's) qualities, our ears in hearing your stories, our hands in doing service  for you, our mind in the remembrance of your feet, our head in bowing to this world which is your dwelling-place and our eyes in gazing at the saints who are your living images on earth.

 From The Principal Upanisads page 138. Dr. Radhakrishnan

September 27, 2013

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.10.38

vāṇī guṇānukathane śravaṇau kathāyāḿ

hastau ca karmasu manas tava pādayor naḥ

smṛtyāḿ śiras tava nivāsa-jagat-praṇāme

dṛṣṭiḥ satāḿ darśane 'stu bhavat-tanūnām


vāṇī — words, the power of speech; guṇa-anukathane — always engaged in talking about Your pastimes; śravaṇau — the ear, or aural reception;kathāyām  in talks about You and Your pastimes; hastau — hands and legs and other senses; ca — also; karmasu — engaging them in executing Your mission; manaḥ — the mind; tava — Your; pādayoḥ — of Your lotus feet; naḥ — our; smṛtyām  in remembrance always engaged in meditation; śiraḥ— the head; tava — Your; nivāsa-jagat-praṇāme — because You are all-pervading, You are everything, and our heads should bow down, not looking for enjoyment; dṛṣṭiḥ — the power of sight; satām — of the Vaiṣṇavas; darśane  in seeing; astu — let all of them be engaged in this way; bhavat-tanūnām— who are nondifferent from You.


Henceforward, may all our words describe Your pastimes, may our ears engage in aural reception of Your glories, may our hands, legs and other senses engage in actions pleasing to You, and may our minds always think of Your lotus feet. May our heads offer our obeisances to everything within this world, because all things are also Your different forms, and may our eyes see the forms of Vaiṣṇavas, who are nondifferent from You.



  Sri U. Ve Velukkudi Krishnan Swamy

Unified monistic theory finds opposition with support to qualified monism.

The point of debate is whether jiva (individual soul = Cit) and para (the Supreme = Isvara) are one and the same or different. In the example which you have cited, apurya manam... the rivers and ocean are not one and the same. Similarly jiva and Para are not one and the same. Whether it is miniscule or big they are different. It is right that the grace of Perumal (Isvara = Bhagavan) destroys our sins, but if jiva is Para, then Paramatma has to destroy His own sins. Can the sinner be the one who dispels it? This all proves that jiva and Para are different and jiva is dependant on Para. END

On Cit and Acit  चित् and अचित्

Acit is jada, non sentient. It is made of pancha bhUtas (Five Great elements) which are in turn a transformed state of mUla prakrti which is the matter with which Bhagavan creates all acit. While acit is prakrtam (a product of prakrti) jiva is aprakrtam (not a product of prakrti). Jiva resides in every acit. The status of knowledge is decided by the purva karmas (past Karmas) of the jiva. Acit is not termed so because the gnanam (= ஞானம் = ज्ञान = Jñāna = knowledge) of the jiva inside is shrunk. Acit or this body is slapped on a jiva to enjoy the fruits of his karmas. Once a jiva (= जीव = சீவன் = Individual soul) is residing in this body it misunderstands as a human being or an animal or a deva. Once it sheds all its karmas it reaches Srivaikuntham (SriVishnava heaven).

Cit may be found inside every acit. For example our body is ruled by an atman. Body is acit and atman is cit. All the acit would ever remain as acit only and can never become cit. cit dwells in acit but does not become one with it and so it cannot be termed as acit. Panca bhutas are all acit only. There are devatas who control them and they are all cits.

Every jiva (जीव = cit = चित्) and all matter (acit = अचित्) are sareeram (शरीर = body) of Sriman Narayana the sarīri (= शरीरि = The Universal soul). However atman is distinguished by virtue of gnana (ज्ञान = knowledge) from acit. Using this gnana as a tool and with the help of sastras the jiva acts driver by his karmas. Bhagavan does not interfere in jivas decision to act wicked. Veda vyasa in his brahma sutra says "vaishamya naigrhunye na saapekshatvat" meaning brahmam cannot be blamed for discrimination or mercilessness as the jivas act guided by their karmas. Our body-atman relationship would not be the right example to explain this as our body is totally acit (and so cannot act on its own) whereas Bhagavan's divine body comprises of acit and cit. Every jiva has a right to decide in his first step to every action and then on Isvara support Him in his path. Bhagavan controls us but does not decide every minute first action of ours. Being a part of Bhagavan alone is not enough but the realization of it is more important. For example a holy dip in ganges would clear our papam. Will it apply to all the fishes living for ever in ganges. No. It is the gnana that ganges is the sri paada tirtham of Trivikrama and a dip in it would fetch moksham that matters.

Vishnu.  Sri is a soul as you and me in Tenkalai (தென்கலை) view; as a divine Consort, She is with Vishnu all the time.

Paramatma alone is vibhu (विभु = omnipresent). He and only He is a vibhu by His svaroopa (= स्वरूप = சொரூபம் = Real Nature = own form). He is also aNu. Piratti is inseparable from Him and is anu as any other jiva. But by the status as His divine consort she enjoys the benefit of being along with Him wherever He is and so is distinguished from other jivas.

 aNu = अणु = அணு = soul;   Piratti  = பிராட்டி = Goddess = Sri, consort of Vishnu.

More on Chit and Achit by Sri U. Ve Velukkudi Krishnan Swamy

Achit and chit are not classified based on living on non living. The criteria is gnana (sentient or non sentient). All the bodies are achit. Atma resides inside but totally different. Just because we stay in a house are we called as a house? Similarly atman is eternal, non perishable, sentient inside a temporary, perishable, non sentient body. The divine form or Bhagavan is also achit. But it is parakrutam ie. not a product or prakruti (the primodial nature). So it is not a mixture of satva rajas and tamas (as our body is) but pure satva (suddha satva).  End

Our body is made of Prakriti which is of the nature of virtue, passion and darkness (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). Bhagavan's body is A-prakritic, Parakritic, Exclusively of the nature of Suddha Sattva (Pure Goodness or Virtue), Empyreal and not contaminated with Rajas and Tamas. It is worthwhile to know that when liberated souls go to Vaishnava heaven (paramapadam, Vaikuntam) they shed the earthly Prakritic substance and acquire a body of Pure Suddha Sattvam as that of Bhagavan Himself. The transmutation takes place as the liberated soul goes through a purificatory process by wading across the Vraja river....--Krishnaraj

The following explanation of Avidya and Maya is more elaborate as advocated in Panchadasi. Decide for yourself as to what argument appeals to you.

Avidya and Maya according to Panchadasi, the Advaitic (Monistic) treatise. As said earlier, Ramanuja does not subscribe to this theory.

We have Consciousness in us, which is the same in awake, dream sleep and deep sleep states. In the latter two states, we do know its existence because when we are awake, we know we were dreaming, and lacked knowledge in deep sleep. This consciousness under normal conditions does not rise or fall and is self-revealing. This Consciousness of the nature of Supreme Bliss is our Self, which we love and wish it exists for ever. Thus the individual Self is of the nature of existence, consciousness (and bliss). Supreme Brahman is similar to the Self. If we do not know that there is such a thing as Self, we would not love it. If it is known, there cannot be love for the existing worldly objects. (In the sensual world, love is a fickle thing. Love is a magnetic entity in the sense it always looks for displacement and transfer to a higher and stronger magnet. You love your bicycle; your love for a bicycle is displaced and transferred to a motorbike, when you see one.) Since the worldly objects are in the forefront of our vision and obscuring the Self, the Self is not revealed. The Self is obscured as the voice of your son is obscured in a chorus of other voices. In like manner the love for worldly objects has obscured the love for the Self. This obscuring or obstructing principle is called Avidya or ignorance (Non-knowledge). Obstruction hides the nature of a thing or makes it appear as something else. What we see is an experience; what we don't see is counter-experience. Bliss or Brahman is what we should seek but it is obscured by a world of objects. Bliss is known and yet unknown because of counter-experience.

Brahman is Pure Consciousness. Jiva or the individual soul is a reflection of Brahman in Avidya. Prakriti reflects Brahman. Prakriti is made of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas which exist in equilibrium. Prakriti is the source of creation. It is neither a product of Brahman, nor a real entity apart from Brahman. It is the desire of Brahman to create. It is Being in the process of becoming. It is in the process of materialization. (It is like the unseen vapor in the air materializing as water due to condensation. Pure water condensate is Sattva. Acid rain is  water, sulfur, and nitrogen emissions (Avidya, made of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.)

Sattva (absolute goodness) is intelligence; Rajas (Passion) is motion; and Tamas (darkness) is matter.  Sattva is Maya.

When Sattva is the pure element in Prakriti, it is called MAyA or MAya-Prakriti. When Sattva is contaminated with Rajas and Tamas, it is called Avidya or spiritual ignorance. When Brahman is reflected in Maya, He becomes Isvara. That is Isvara with Sattva guna. It is Maya-Brahman, who controls Maya. Isvara or Maya-Brahman is Being (Sat), consciousness (Cit) in the process of creation and becoming, owns and controls Maya. Maya's becoming is a conscious process that runs unobstructed.

MAyA-Sarira = Maya-Sarira.

Avidya is a perishable Sarira. Sarira means body, not the kind with hands and feet. Body of knowledge does not have hands and feet. Avidya is a body of ignorance, negated or rendered extinct by body of knowledge. Likewise, Maya-Brahman or Isvara with Maya-Sarira has Maya under His control. His Will is MAyA-Sarira, by which He creates this world and thus is omniscient and omnipotent.

PrAjna Sarira = Body of ignorance or Avidya. The individual soul and not Brahman is the repository of Avidya

PrAjna Sarira is Avidya; PrAjna is ignorance, which is experience of non-knowledge (I don't know anything). Ignorance or Avidya is the Causal Body, which obstructs the knowledge of ultimate truth, which is our own nature.

Avidya is a mixture of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is intelligence and Taijasa or shining. Thus this Avidya has some knowledge (trace of Sattva) within it. Take the gold-bearing slurry: very little gold and a ton of slurry. This is known as Prajna within PrAjna (Supreme knowledge within ignorance).

When the individual soul gets rid of Rajas and Tamas, and Sattva becomes his body, he sees past the world of objects (experience), perceives Brahman (Counter-experience) and understands his identity with Him. Rajas and Tamas are the slurry, upon removal of which the gold (or Sattva) becomes visible.


Consider this: Srivaishnavism says that Cit (We the people) form the body of Isvara (the Prime Mover and Shaker of Cit and Acit). That being so, there are good Cit, bad Cit, and indifferent Cit, that form the body of Isvara. Does that mean that the body of Isvara is not all pure because of the bad Cits along with others form the body of Isvara? Srivaishnavism claims Bhagavan and His co-residents of Vaikuntam (Sri, Bhu, Nila, Nityasuris....) are made of Suddha Sattvam (Empyreal Aprakritic pure substance). How can one reconcile with these apparently contradictory factors: Bad Jivas forming the body of Isvara and Bhagavan made of Suddha Sattvam? My assumption is that though the bad cit makes the body of Bhagavan, the tri-color Prakriti of bad Cit transmutes into one-color Sattva minus contaminants like Rajas and Tamas as long as the soul is attached to Bhagavan. As the individual soul is ready to be born in the world, it undergoes declivity (taṭasta = तटस्त =  (Taṭa + sta = Slope, declivity + state) = Standing on a declivity or bank [of a river]. What it means is the individual soul, as long as it remains attached to Cit Sakti of Bhagavan, remains Suddha Sattvam. Once the Maya Sakti pulls the Jiva Sakti (individual soul) away from Cit Sakti, declivity (taṭasta) is the prevailing situation. One foot is planted on Cit Sakti and one foot is on Maya Sakti. That is keeping one foot in the river and one foot on the bank of the river. When Maya Sakti's pull is stronger on account of Upadhis (limiting adjuncts), the Jiva Sakti subject to Maya Sakti, takes on a body and Kankucas. See the diagram depicting this concept.





 Prabhupada (BG 18.78 Commentary) says, " Nothing is different from the Supreme. But the Supreme is always different from everything."

Sayings of  Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa: Sayings 890.  page 241-242.

890. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa puts it in delightfully simple words: Every object is Narayana (God, Brahman). Man is Narayana, the animal is Narayana, the sage is Narayana, the knave also is Narayana. All that exists is Narayana. The deity (Narayana) sports in various ways. All things are His diverse forms and the manifestations of His glory.

Cosmic Sakti (power) is an aggregate (Samashti) of all Saktis, while kundalini Sakti in a body is the component part of the aggregate, or individual power (Vyashti). Look at the Pomegranate fruit: The whole fruit is an aggregate (Samasthi) of all individual fleshy seeds (Vyasthi).  Vyasthi is Brahman at individual level of the soul. Samasthi is Brahman at Cosmic Scale.

In Hindu religion, Isvara (controller of the universe) is compared to pomegranate fruit (Punica granatum) . The seeds are the individual souls. The whole fruit is an aggregate (Samasthi) of all individual fleshy seeds (Vyasthi) (Each seed is enclosed in red fleshy juicy aril.) Thus the souls form part of the body of Bhagavan.

Ramanuja, bronze sculpture, 12th century; from a Visnu temple in Tanjore district, India: Click the link below.

According to Saivites, Bindu (बिन्दु = விந்து) is the aggregate (Samasthi) of Siva-Sakti, Tattvas, people and personalities, while each individual (Vyasthi) is part of that aggregate. Bindu's prolific energy produces all conceivable things in the universe ranging from blade of grass to Brahma.  Tattva = building blocks of the universe; principles.


pome·gran·ate  (Random House dictionary description.)

1. a chambered, many-seeded, globose fruit, having a tough, usually red rind and surmounted by a crown of calyx lobes, the edible portion consisting of pleasantly acid flesh developed from the outer seed coat.

Vishistadvaita Vedanta

Consciousness and Knowledge of the Lord  தன்னியல்பு

Vishistadvaita Vedanta lays stress on Jnana or Knowledge of Bhagavan (the Lord). Jnana is the Svarupa (स्वरूप = சொரூபம்  = தன்னியல்பு = Inherent Nature). He is Vijnanaghana (விஞ்ஞான கனம் = True Knowledge abundance = plenitude of Knowledge = heavy with knowledge) and omniscient (Sarvajnana = சர்வஞ்ஞானம் = Omniscience). Omniscience means that Bhagavan knows all things at all times simultaneously as it is, was, will be and as it happens. He does not need sense organs for perception. Alvars call Bhagavan Jnana-Murti (ஞானமூர்த்தி = God, as the embodiment of wisdom). Nammalvar sings His praise as follows in Divya Prabhandam.

னன் அகம் மலம் அற மலர்மிசை எழுதரும்

மனன் உணர்வு அளவு இலன் பொறி-உணர்வு அவை இலன்

இனன் உணர், முழு நலம், எதிர் நிகழ் கழிவினும்

இனன் இலன், எனன் உயிர், மிகுநரை இலனே. 1.1.2  (2900)

He removes all impurities of the heart, makes it blossom and is beyond the reach and grasp of inner thought, feelings and the senses. He is eternal, plenitudinous, of Pure Consciousness, and peerless. He is my life. 

உணர்  = Unar = Consciousness1 , perception, understanding, Knowledge1 , feeling. He is Consciousness and Knowledge.  Unarvu or Unar (உணர்) consists of 1) Sankalpa [சங்கற்பம் = mental resolve, Will], 2) Anugraha (அனுக்கிரகம் = Grace), 3) Nigraha (நிக்கிரகம் = punishment, destruction), and 4) Moksa (மோட்சம் = Liberation, freeing the soul from rebirth.).

Alvars give examples for each quality of Bhagavan.  

His qualities are Jnana1 (Knowledge), Sakti2 (Absolute Power),  Bala3 (strength), Tejas4  (splendor), Virya5  (Energy), Aisvarya6 (sovereignty, opulence), Saulabhya7 (Easy Accessibility), Sausilya8  (Gracious Condescension), Vatsalya9 (parental love), Krpa10 (Compassion), Audarya11 ( Generosity), and Bandhuttva12 (Friendship).

Jnana1 : Jnana was discussed already.

Sakti2 : Sakti is Power by which Bhagavan created this universe by mere Will or Sankalpam (संकल्प = சங்கற்பம் = resolve of the mind). Alvars mention Baby Krishna having swallowed the whole universe (Singularity of the black hole) and floating on the Banyan leaf in the illustration elsewhere. Another example they give is His lifting of the Govardhana Hill to protect the cowherds from the heavy downpour of rain caused by irate Indra.

Bala3:  Alvars cite His strength by mere Will power in the creation of many universes, their relative configurations, stability, and the destruction of various demons by many Avatars.

Tejas4 : He is the light of lights and the Light and Luster in all the luminous objects, the light in the spiritual heart....

Virya5 : He is undiminished after all the Great Feats He performed, and unchanged after He wrought all these changes in the material universe. He is the Real SuperSupreme Hero in this Universe.

Aisvarya6:  He is the Lord and Sovereign of the Universe. His freedom has no limits.

Saulabhya7:  Easy Accessibility. In Verse 2921 Nammalvar says: பத்து உடை அடியவர்க்கு எளியவன். பிறர்களுக்கு அரிய வித்தகன்  =  He is easy of access to the Bhaktas (Devotees); for others (who revile Him) He is inaccessible.  He is accessible to ordinary mortals in the sanctified images in the temples.

Sausilya8 : சௌளில்யம் / ஸௌளளில்யம்:  Excellence of disposition; 1. virtuous conduct; நற்குண நல்லொழுக்கம. 2. The quality of moving freely and on terms of equality with persons lower in status than oneself; மிகத் தாழ்ந்தாரோடும் ஒப்பக் கலந்திருக்கும் நற்குணம். This quality of felicitous and ease of association is hard to achieve by human beings. Can a prince come down to the level of a pauper and make the latter feel comfortable with him?  Only God can do that and He does that with ease. Bhagavan Krishna incarnated among the cowherds and moved with them freely. The Alvars quote several examples of His excellent disposition.

Vatsalya9: Vatsa means calf. The cow has love and affection for the calf and cleanses the calf with its tongue soon after its birth. That is true love. That is parental love. That is the love Bhagavan has for his devotees. The licking of the newborn calf by the cow is euphemism for the expiation of sins of the devotee by Bhagavan. 

Krpa10 : Kirupai (கிருபை) is compassion and carries the same meaning as Grace (அருள்) in Tamil. It is Compassion that leads to Grace by Bhagavan on His devotees. In post-Ramanuja period Krpa was dichotomized into Nirhetuka-krpa and sahetuka-krpa (Causeless Compassion and Grace and Caused Compassion and Grace. Hetu means cause.  Causeless Grace does not demand any effort from the devotee.

Bhagavan takes whomever He pleases and gives him Grace or liberation, whether the devotee has put in any effort or not, to deserve Grace.  The link between a known cause or effort on the part of man and Consequent Grace is cut by the Tenkalais.

Nammalvar (Verse: 3744/VIII.7.8) says the following in support of Causeless (unearned, undeserving, with no self-effort) Grace.

3744 Divya prabhandam

அறியேன் மற்று அருள்; என்னை ஆளும் பிரானார்,

வெறிதே அருள்செய்வர் செய்வார்கட்கு உகந்து,

சிறியேனுடைச் சிந்தையுள் மூவுலகும் தன்

நெறியா வயிற்றில் கொண்டு நின்றொழிந்தாரே. 8.7.8 (3744)


I have known no other Grace. My sovereign Bhagavan grants His Causeless Grace to any one He pleases. Insignificant person that I am; containing the three worlds in His abdomen He abides in my heart and mind.

Caused Grace demands an effort on the part of the devotee to deserve Grace from Bhagavan, such as Prapatti, Bhakti, Jnana, and or Karma Yoga. This concept led to the bimodal SriVaishnava sect: Tenkalai and Vadakalai.  Alvars are of the belief that Bhagavan confers both kinds of Grace to His devotees. Click→ vadakalai_tenkalai

Nammalvar says in this verse that He obtained Caused Grace, though (he admits) there was no sincere devotion and he uttered disingenuous vacuous words of praise.

கை ஆர் சக்கரத்து என் கருமாணிக்கமே! என்று என்று,

பொய்யே கைம்மை சொல்லி  புறமே புறமே ஆடி,

மெய்யே பெற்றொழிந்தேன்; விதி வாய்க்கின்று காப்பார் ஆர்,

ஐயோ! கண்ணபிரான்! அறையோ இனிப்  போனாலே. 5.1.1 (3341)

O Black Gem who bears the discus!  O Kanna! Thus I called You in falsity. I danced, indulged in sensual pleasures and uttered untrue disingenuous words (of praise). You took my falsity as sincerity and truth, You showered on me Your Grace. In that sense, I received the Grace meant only for Your devotees. O Kannapiran! If You leave me now, will I let You go?


திருமாலிருஞ்சோலை மலை என்றேன்; என்ன

திருமால் வந்து என் நெஞ்சு நிறையப் புகுந்தான்

குரு மா மணி உந்து புனல் பொன்னித் தென்பால்

திருமால் சென்று சேர்விடம் தென் திருப்பேரே. 10.8.1 (3968)

So I said Tirumalirumsolai Malai. Tirumal entered my heart and filled it with plenitude (of Grace). Grace-giving Bhagavan abides in Ten-Tirupper. This country is on the southern bank of Kaveri, where the floods are awash with excellent gems and wherein abide Tirumal and His consort.

Tirumalirumsolai malai = Tirumal (Vishnu) abiding in the mountain-grove. Ten-Tirupper = name of a place.

In the last two verses, Nammalvar makes a confession. Bhagavan filled his heart with Grace, though Nammalvar's  words were uttered in vain and carried very little effort. God rewards His devotees however small their efforts are. This is Krpa (compassion) connected with Hetu (sahetuka) or effort.  As a Sudra, Nammalvar was ineligible to perform Jnana or Bhakti Yoga.

Alvars did not specifically tell that the Fruit (ÀÄý = heaven) should be linked with some kind of endeavor. He certainly praises the Lord for having filled him with Grace for very little effort. The Alvars sing the glory of God in offering both Causeless and Caused Grace without saying they (the two types of Grace) are in conflict with each other.

Audarya11:  Audarya speaks of the munificence of Bhagavan far beyond what is asked for and even when not asked.

Bandhuttva12 :  Bandhu is blood relative. பந்துத்வம் or Bandhutvam means relationship. Relationship with blood relatives lasts as long as the relation lives. Thus, it is conditioned relationship, SopAdhika1-bahdhutva. The relationship with God is nirupAdhika 2 bandhutva.  God is the relation to all beings.  God is called Attan (அத்தன்) by Alvars, meaning Father or a Person of eminence. Nammalvar in his verse 3781 (9.1.1) points to the ephemeral conditioned nature of relationship among blood relatives.

sōpādhi1= सोपाधि = conditionally; qualified, limited; restricted by some condition or limitation or stipulation, qualified, by some condition (as liberality by the desire of receiving something in return); having some peculiar attribute or distinguishing title with limitations, conditionally

nirupAdhikanirupAdhika (BhP. ) mfn. without attributes or qualities , absolute.


Nammalvar in his verse 3781 (9.1.1) points to the ephemeral nature of relationship among blood relatives.


கொண்ட பெண்டிர் மக்கள் உற்றார், சுற்றத்தவர், பிறரும்,

கண்ட தோடு பட்டது அல்லால் காதல் மற்று யாதும் இல்லை,

எண்  திசையும் கீழும் மேலும் முற்றவும் உண்ட பிரான்,

தொண்டரோமாய் உய்யல்  அல்லால், இல்லை கண்டீர் துணையே. 9.1.1 (3781)

Wedded wife, sons and daughters, relatives, friends and servants, and others show love as long as one has wealth.  Penury precipitates paucity of love. Therefore you hold on to Piran (God), who swallowed (in Him contains) the eight directions, the sky and the earth. Become His devotee-slave (தொண்டர்) for salvation (உய்யல்). He is our succor and support (துணை).

Ramanuja (1017-1137) advances his qualified nondualistic philosophy (Vishishtadvaida) that the Universal Soul (Vishnu) and the individual soul (human soul) are identical but not equal. Let my explain this apparent contradiction with an example. Vishnu and liberated souls move as one unit, but there is Vishnu as one entity and the myriad souls as the second entity. (The liberated individual souls form the Bliss Body of Vishnu). Vishnu, the Universal Soul is Heavy Water and the individual souls are light water. Heavy Water and light water are chemically identical but not equal. Heavy Water (D2O or 2H2O and light water (H2O) are chemically same and yet they are different. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen--Heavy Hydrogen.  Heavy and light water look alike, taste alike. Heavy water boils at 101.41 degrees Celsius, while water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Heavy water is viscous.  The two Hydrogen atoms in light water are replaced by Heavier Deuterium atoms in D2O. The atomic nucleus of Deuterium has one proton and one neutron and one orbiting electron.  It is the extra neutron that makes D2O heavier than H2O by 10%. D2O and H2O exist in lake water in a proportion of 1 to 20 million water molecules. The Heavy Water is chemically identical with light water as Vishnu the Universal Soul is identical with the individual soul. When you drink water it is a mixture of both. Your body is soaked in Heavy Soul and light soul. An infinitesimal tad of Heavy Water Vishnu is necessary for you to sustain life. He is called Antaratman* (Inner Soul). You are the ubiquitous abundant light-weight individual soul compared to the all-pervasive Heavier Soul of Vishnu. Just remember that Vishnu is zillion times heavier than the individual soul, though Vishnu and the pure soul are identical. Though they are identical, the light-weight individual souls cannot create, maintain or destroy the universe and beings; that is the exclusive domain of Vishnu. There are myriad qualities of Vishnu that we do not have. Salt (Vishnu) is necessary for your health; you need only a dash of it. Pralaya (destruction of the body) by Vishnu through Rudra is recycling of soul, until they merge with him. This merger is the merger of light water of individual souls with heavy water of Vishnu.  Let me give you another example. You are one grain of rice in heaviness; Vishnu is a gazillion grains of rice. Can you sell one grain of rice in the supermarket?

Antaratman* = The Jñānārṇava Tantra (XXI. 10) says that "antah" implies  secret and subtle, for the Atma, fine like an atom, is within everything.--Woodroffe, Serpent Power p 50.

During Pralaya (Deluge, dissolution), Bhagavan is portrayed to be floating on a banyan leaf. How is it possible for a Being who has swallowed the whole universe to float on a leaf?  You wonder how Vishnu in the form of Krishna having swallowed the universe still look like a baby?  We think, 'Yes, He must be a bloated baby.' No He is not. Remember the universe thus swallowed becomes Singularity (of the black hole) with no dimension or weight in His stomach. That quality is what is called Akadithakatanaa Saamarthiyam --Tamil Lexicon--  (அகடிதகடனாசாமர்த்தியம்--  = versatile doer of the impossible. It appears that the leaf supports Bhagavan. Is it the leaf that supports Bhagavan? Is it Bhagavan who supports the leaf? It is the former (Bhagavan) supporting the latter. He is the one who supports all the weight of the universe and the leaf itself. Akatitam = The impossible; Katana = effort; Caamarttiyam = adeptness. In modern parlance,
'It is Mission Impossible'. Baby Krishna floating on a leaf in the cosmic generative ocean


God creates the world and takes it back to himself (herself) until he creates it again.  This thought is expressed as follows by Dr. Radhakrishnan.

The plan of God for the world, which was before creation is carried out, for He is the beginning and the end of the world.1 The Cosmic Lord has his exteriorised existence and his interior life. When he turns outward the cosmos is evolved, when he turns his attention inward, the cosmos retreats into latency and the manifested world terminates. When the world is redeemed, the Supreme Lord becomes the Absolute One, alone, and knows nothing else.

The  cosmic  Christ speaking through Jesus, 'I am the Alpha and the omega, the first and the last; for what was first comes at last and the last is the first.’  Page 131, The Principal Upanisads. Sep 26, 2013.


    Sankara's (born 788 C.E.) interpretation of Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art--That You are.) asserts the identical nature of Brahman (Siva of Saivites, the Vishnu of Vaishnavites, Devi of Saktas) and the individual soul: That and Thou are one. That is unlimited; Thou is limited. When the limitation (UpAdhi) is removed, there is non-difference between That and Thou. Sankara opines that the wave (individual soul) rises and falls into the ocean (The Greater Soul or Brahman) merging with it; thus, the wave is the ocean before it rises and after it falls back into the ocean; that being so, there is no difference between the wave and the ocean; everything is Brahman: it, that, you, he, she and I. We are all one organism. That is Monism: Brahman, beings, and matter are one organism.  Sankara does not hesitate to admit in his praise of Vishnu that he is the little wave and Vishnu is the vast ocean.  We are all little waves rising and falling; we exist for the duration of the wave and merge back into Brahman.

Campbell ( hear the mouthpiece of Sankara) explains the oneness of  dream-like universe beautifully in words like dream, It, That, He, I and She.

The following modification is based on Joseph Campbell's view of dream sleep. (Page 70, Myths of Light.)

When you are in dream sleep, all dreams are mental creations like a movie in which you see yourself, others and events. Though there is duality of you on one side (subject) and that, he, she, and it on the other side (object), they are all one because they are your mental creation. It is a dream, a myth, and an illusion that you created. Life likewise is a dream, a myth, and an illusion. The heaven and hell, good and bad, god and soul, I and That, I and He, I and She, I and it are one. The acts in the dream are your acts; the it, that, he, and she are you because there is nobody else; they are all within you; therefore we walk and work in a world of dream, myth and illusion.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says that the soul is tied to a chain in man; when the soul is free from the chain of Maya, the soul is the Lord or Brahman. Adapted from Sayings of Ramakrishna, saying 20 page 27.    

Vaishnavites of Vishistadvaita persuasion give a different flavor and interpretation to Tat Tvam Asi. Tat is the subtle form (Suksma) of Paramatma (Supreme Soul); Tvam is the gross (Sthula) form. Asi means he remains so. Paramatma remains both as Subtle and Gross Forms. Subtle form is when Vishnu contains all (Samastham) in Him --remember baby Krishna having swallowed the whole universe is floating in the causal generative ocean; gross form is when creation proceeds from Him. Thus Paramatma is Suksma Cit-Acit Visishtan (சூக்கும சித்து-அசித்து விசிட்டன் = Subtle Chit-Achit Supreme controller) during Pralaya (deluge, sublation, destruction = black hole) and Sthula Cit-Acit Visishtan  (Sthula = Gross) in the phenomenal world. He is Satyam, Nityam Anantam and Amutam -- சத்யம், நித்யம், அனந்தம், அமுதம் -- (Truth, Eternal, Endless, and Ambrosia) Visishtan = விசிட்டன் = The controlling deity; the deity who controls breath.  When the controlling Paramatman is subtle, the universe, souls, and elements are in Him as subtle (not palpable) entities during the Great Deluge (Pralaya or destruction). The universe and beings become Singularity (avyaktam = unmanifest) in Him. When He is in gross form, the creation proceeds from Him at the end of Pralaya and acquires a physical form (the phenomenal world). Cit = intelligent sentient soul; Acit = non-intelligent insentient entity.  Acit = அசித்து.  Cit = சித்து. Reflection on Pralaya, Avyaktam and Srsti (creation), brings to our mind the configuration of the Black Hole, Singularity, and White Hole -- a recent concept of the scientific world.

    Ramanuja  (1017-1137 C.E.) is of the opinion that in their non-duality (non-difference between the Universal Soul and the individual soul) there are subtle differences or modifications (Vishishta). Let me give you a simple example. We all know that identical twins come from one egg and one sperm. The resulting zygote (fertilized egg) splits into two cells; for some unknown reason the two cells separate and become identical twins. The twins are genetically identical (That and Thou are the same).  One twin may be fat and another is not; they are discordant (incongruous) for fat deposit in their body, though they are genetically identical. That is the modification in non-difference (Vishista-advaita). This is yet another interpretation of Tat Tvam Asi.

Caitanya (1485-1533 CE) Acintya-bhedaAbheda.  There are three entities in the universe: Isvara, Cit and Acit (Lord, souls, matter) . Cit and Acit are different and yet non-different from Him. His philosophy finds expansion and elaboration in Acintya Bheda-abheda PrakAsa (inconceivable simultaneous difference-non-difference manifestation).

Essential elements of Acintya Bheda-Abheda, Inconceivable simultaneous difference-non-difference or difference-Oneness.

The write-up is based on Introduction to Brahma Sutra, translation and commentary by Radhakrishnan and other sources.

அசிந்தியம் acintiyam अचिन्त्य , n. < a-cintya. 1. That which is inconceivable.

Lord's potencies are inconceivable (Acintya = अचिन्त्य).  We are one with Him, because we came from His marginal and external (Jiva and Maya) potencies as depicted in the diagram. He gave us the soul,  the body and the world. We are different from Him because we (souls) are atomic (atom = anu = அணு  = extremely minute and limited = individual soul =Monad) in nature,  while He is inconceivable, immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent. Our soul is a fragment of the fragment of  His Jiva Sakti; our soul is an atom that broke off from Him (Jiva Sakti); our body proceeds from his Maya Sakti.  He is the Eternal Truly Abiding Entity.  He liberates us and gives us Grace. His Knowledge is immeasurable, while ours is derived from His; ours is miniscule and limited. The energy, the metabolism, the electricity, the enzyme systems that we have in our system are infinitesimal energy as compared to His immense energies or potencies. Our energies are limited as are our intelligence and our body, while His is unlimited, whole, and immeasurable.

There are nine Prameyas (Inference or proposition) in relation to God.

1) Bhagavan is the highest Reality and a Personal God 2) He is knowable from scriptures only. 3) The universe is real. 4) The difference between god and the soul is real. 5) The dependent individual souls are real and are dependent servant-slaves of the Lord. 6) There are five kinds of souls. 7) Liberation is merger with the Lord. 8) Worship is the cause of liberation. 9) There are three sources of knowledge: perception, inference and Scriptures, the last being the most authoritative and reliable.

Chaitanya formulated these principles taking into consideration all the available philosophies of his time, rejected some notions, accepted some and emphasized some in his philosophy so that all principles are commensurate with the Scriptures. Ramanuja says there is one Reality qualified by Cit and Acit. Madhavacharya says that the soul is real, distinct from the Lord. Nimbarka advanced the theory of Jiva being simultaneously different and non-different from the Lord. They all agreed on Bhakti (devotion), Jiva's servitude (śeșatva) to the Lord,  Prema, and the tenets of BhagavAn-BhAgavatA-BhAgavatA relationship. Sankara says the universe is a superimposition on Brahman , like a wave in the ocean- the idea the Vaishnavas reject.  Prema = love for Krishna;  BhagavAn = Lord, Krishna, Vishnu; BhAgavatA = devotee. BhagavAn-BhAgavatA-BhAgavatA relationship = The relationship between god and devotee and the relationship between the devotees.

Vaishnavas have five sects: Suddhadvaita (Vallabha), Vishishtadvaita (Ramanuja), Dvaitadvaita (Nimbarka), Dvaita (Madhava), Acintya bhedabheda (Chaitanya, Baladeva). Mayavadi philosophers have Sankaracharya as the protagonist of Mayavadi philosophy, whose main thrust is that the world is an illusion and superimposition on Para Brahman or impersonal Brahman. Mayavada Vedanta regard Jiva  (Embodied soul = living being) as Brahman with Upadhi (उपाधि = that which conditions. limitation = body). Brahman is Consciousness without body. There is no independent entity like Jiva apart from Brahman. I coined two terms for Brahman with Upadhi (Avidya Brahman = Brahman with spiritual ignorance or Upadhi Brahman = limited Brahman = we the people). Saktas and Vaishnavites do not agree with these concepts about Brahman. In Tamil Nadu, Vaishnavas belong to one of two sects: Vadakalai and Tenkalai. vadakalai_tenkalai.

Kularnava Tantra says that Jiva (embodied soul) is part of Siva enveloped by MAyA. It is like sparks flying off from the Great Fire.

MAyavAdi = Illusion-Proponent, Proponent of doctrine that the world is an illusion.

 There is a philosophical conflict between Mayavadis and the Vaishnavas; the latter have internal differences too. Chaitanya rejects Mayavadi concept of Brahman, the world and the souls. Mayavadis do not accept the existence of deities and claim that man has appended names on the impersonal Brahman (names are Vishnu, Siva, Durga, Kali, Ganesa...) simply because human mind cannot concentrate on formless Brahman; man needs an artifice, a prop, a form or an object for worship or meditation (on impersonal Brahman). Mayavadis imply that the Vaishnavas have cleverly but wrongly morphed Impersonal Brahman to Saguna Brahman or Isvara with names such as Vishnu, Krishna....  Isvara = manifest god; Lord; Master; King.

Chaitanya accepts Madhava's rejection of Mayavadi philosophy, and embracing of Krishna (Personal god, Vishnu, Narayana) as an eternal spiritual Supreme Being.  Ramanuja's devotional service with rejection of Karma and Jnana Yogas (as paths of salvation), and service to BhAgavatAs (devotees) are welcome features for Chaitanya, who also likes the Vishnuswami's Raga Marga ( path of spontaneous love and devotion), exclusive dependence on Krishna, and worship of Radha and Krishna. Chaitanya embraces Nimbarka's highest form of worship of Krishna and Radha, Gopis' love and devotion to Krishna, and Prapatti. Impersonal Brahman worship is a NO, NO among Vaishnavas. There is no such entity as Attributeless Brahman. Brahman always has names, attributes and Kalyana Gunas (auspicious qualities) in Vaishnava view.

Here are the other features of Acintya Bhedabheda. The important thing to remember is that Brahman is Immutable and only His saktis (power) undergo transformation (Parinama). Bhagavan's desire kindles His Acintya Sakti (inconceivable power or potency) to create many universes and planets where jivas can live. His desire does not change Him in any way. Calling Him Formless denies His Spiritual Sakti. He is the Causal Agent; we remain alive by His power; upon our physical death, we subside in Him: That Entity is Brahman. His power is inconceivable and He manifests in four ways: Svarupa (His own original Form, His Nature); Tad Rupa Vaibhava (That Form Superhuman power- His splendors, abodes, incarnations); Jivas (individual souls); Pradhana (material energy).  These four features are compared to the sun: His form is interior of the sun; His Superhuman power is the surface of the sun; the Jivas are the emanating sun's rays; matter is the reflection of the sun as in body of water. The four features exist eternally; Oneness of the Supreme is also eternal; this is the essence of Acintya state of Bhagavan.

The ideas of formless Brahman, superimposition, illusion, the soul being the reflection of Brahman, the Jivas and the material world as the dream world of Brahman are false statements, according to Acintya Bhedabheda.

Here are the salient features of Bhagavan.

1) The Absolute Transcendent  Lord, possessing all Aisvarya (opulences). 2) Madhurya Rupa = Sweetness of Form. 3) Chanting of His name is superior and liberating. 4) Lord's Special quality (Visesa): VAstava Vastu = Truly abiding Entity. 5) The difference between Isvara, Cit and Acit (Lord, Jiva and matter) is that He can create, maintain and destroy, while individual soul cannot do them; Cit and Acit are ever dependent on Him. 6) His powers and qualities are inconceivable. 7) He is all-pervasive and yet atomic and lives in the spiritual heart of beings. 8) He is just and impartial and showers special Grace on His devotees. 9) He is the creator of the universe and beings and yet He is immutable; He is not made of parts, and is whole (Purna); yet He is with parts and potencies. 10) The Lord, His qualities and His name are one. Analogy: The coils of snake (parts and attributes) are not different from the whole snake (Sesa). The light and the substratum of light, the sun are One. Likewise, the knowledge and the substratum of knowledge are One. 11) Bhagavan has no internal differences. 12) He is not a coalescent whole of disparate and different qualities as a tree is a coalescent whole of leaves, flowers, fruits, branches, trunk and root. 13) He is a homogeneous essence; each of his qualities are not parts but identical with Him, perfect, full and immutable. 14) All his Saktis as listed below. His Cit Sakti (Pure Consciousness) has three parts: Jnana Sakti (Supreme knowledge), Ichcha Sakti (Desire to create...), Kriya Sakti (Action). Our consciousness and knowledge is an infinitesimal tad of His Jnana Sakti.  (We also have Jnana, Ichcha and Kriya Saktis in minute quantities with limitations.)  Cit Sakti, Svarupa Sakti, Antaranga Sakti, ParA sakti are synonyms.  Svarupa = own form.  Cit Sakti is Consciousness; it is Spirit and and anti-matter; it is His Internal potency (Antaranga Sakti); it is superior to His external and marginal potencies, it is called ParA sakti (Supreme power). His marginal potency (Jiva Sakti) is the origin of souls; His external Maya Sakti is the origin of the building blocks of the universe, manifestation of Time.  Jiva Sakti is not part of Cit Sakti or Maya Sakti, though they all abut as in the diagram. Jiva Sakti is Tatastha Sakti. Tata = shore or bank. Stha = situated. It is situated on a shore or bank (neither in the river or the ocean nor on the land) meaning it is neither in the Cit Sakti nor in the Maya Sakti.  When it leans away from Cit Sakti, it is ready to generate souls which take (derive) the body from Maya Sakti.  Thus Marginal Jiva Sakti and External Maya Sakti are the origin of souls and the universe in all their manifestations and phenomena.



15) Parasakti is the efficient cause of the universe and not subject to change. AparA Sakti (AKA Jiva Sakti)  is the origin of souls. Avidya Sakti or Maya Sakti is the origin of matter (and body). Jiva Sakti and Maya Sakti undergo Parinama or transformation only as far as the powers go; He remains unchanged. 16) Maya Sakti's three gunas undergo agitation and evolution from the glance of the Lord. 17) The world He creates is real. 18) During dissolution, there is retrograde involution of matter and souls into Him.  Jiva (soul) Sakti and Maya (body) Sakti: For didactic purposes let us compare these two powers to Electricity. Electricity transforms into motion in a fan. Electricity transforms into light in a bulb.

 Let us now consider Brahman (Isvara, Bhagavan, Lord), the soul (Cit) and the matter (Acit). Matter is non-different from the Lord; but the Lord's energies are many and each one manifests in many different ways. Another example. Electricity is the energy; in toaster oven, it heats up the wire; in blender, the energy whirls the blades; in the light bulb it emits light. One energy and many manifestations or modifications: that is Bheda-abheda (difference-non-difference). The soul and the world are identical with and yet different from Isvara (God).  Isvara is the Supersoul.  What the Supersoul sees, is what you see. His seeing is primary and your seeing is secondary. Isvara is the Cameraman and you are the camera. What the camera sees is what you see. You (the individual soul) can interpret the image as the camera but not as Cameraman.  The Cameraman (God) interprets the image better than you (camera) do.  That is difference-non-difference.  The non-difference between Isvara and the soul is that both are made of the same constitution; the former is an eternal blazing fire and the latter is a short-lived spark.  The difference is that He owns, surveys, purveys and parlays His external Illusory Energy (Bahiranga Maya) to exercise  control over the individual soul. What is External Illusory energy?

Bahiranga = Bahir + Anga = external, unessential + part, limb.

mAya =  (source of) visible universe. illusion.

Bahiranga MAyA is an external illusory energy of Bhagavan and NOT His Internal immutable Cit Energy (Superconsciousness and Supreme Knowledge).  Since Maya creates illusion and the world of mutable matter (visible universe), Bhagavan of Pure Superconsciousness cannot have that energy as part of His Internal constitution. The matter and the worlds emanate from the sweat pores of his body and become the visible universe (Causal Vishnu BG10) .  The embodied soul derives essentially two items from Bhagavan: one is the soul in minute amount from His Jiva Sakti and the second is the body emanating from His Maya.  Body is visible to human eye and soul is not, so man thinks he is made of body and not of soul. This ignorance (avidya) is illusion, a false notion derived from Maya.  This is the false principle of WYSIWYG. When one overcomes ignorance and sees beyond material illusory Maya, he comes to know that he is the soul and the body is only a sheath covering the soul. What is more important, the wrappings or the content of a package? (The soul changes the body after each physical death and subsequent birth until the soul reunites with Bhagavan; the analogy given is the soul is like a man changing his shirt (body) as often as necessary.) When he realizes this,  he is free to merge with His Source, the SuperSoul of the universe. The shirtless soul is fit for merger. The bodiless soul is fit for merger. That is why the Vaishnavas go into the Vaishnava temple without a shirt. Shirtless state is a mark of  humility, sign of respect to Bhagavan, dependency on Bhagavan and a sign of purity before you come before Bhagavan. Also it means that he wants to shed the body and merge the pure soul with Bhagavan. (Woman keeps her upper garment in the temple for obvious reasons.) See the shirtless image (absent upper garment) of Ramanuja. Not all temples follow this code. Shirt = body, Ego, Mineness, Independence, arrogance, wealth, self-importance, possessiveness. One goes before Bhagavan saying that he is a destitute, Bhagavan is the only Savior and he needs refuge at His feet.

      lose one's shirt, Informal. to lose all that one possesses; suffer a severe financial reverse: He lost his shirt in the stock market.

lose your shirt US INFORMAL
to lose a lot of money, especially as a result of a bet.

stuffed shirt noun [C] INFORMAL DISAPPROVING
someone who behaves in a very formal and old-fashioned way and thinks that he is very important.

would give you the shirt off their back informal

if someone would give you the shirt off their back, they are extremely generous. 
John's not well off, but he'd give you the shirt off his back.

Maya has two meanings: Illusion and the progenitor of matter (earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, buddhi, ego, gunas, 14 planetary systems, gross body, subtle body... Maya is NOT His supreme power (His Apara Sakti)  and characterized as His external power (bahiranga Sakti). It is like a shadow at sunset, long and far away from Him and yet follows Him doggedly.

    Narayana (Isvara) created matter, the gross body of the Lord; the universe is his body. One cannot put the chemicals and water together and create the body. Another example. The catalytic converter in the car has the catalyst (Platinum and palladium) which converts unburned hydrocarbons into harmless carbon dioxide and water, carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and oxygen. Narayana is That Catalyst. Vedic Hymns call the catalyst Isvara's Glance. Without his glance, Tattvas, chemicals and water cannot come together to make a living being. This also supports the theory of inconceivable difference-non-difference.  Man has not put the chemicals together and created a living being as of now. 

    Where is the Lord's Glance in Cloning?

    Now let us take the example of cloning of the dog by the South Korean scientists. Cloning a dog is difficult because no one can predict when a dog ovulates; it ovulates once or twice a year; no one has found a way to induce ovulation in a dog; the ovum coming out of the dog's ovary is immature and stays in the oviduct to mature; the scientists have to extract the mature ovum from the oviduct of the dog by surgery; they have to remove the native genes of the extracted ovum, replace them with the nucleus from the skin cells from the ear of another dog, and place the new partially iatrogenic ovum into the oviduct of the dog hoping it will become an embryo, move out of the oviduct, plant itself in the uterus and survive; they had only four hours from extraction from the oviduct to introduction into the oviduct.  They used one dog as a ovum donor and a second dog as ovum recipient. They succeeded after 123 dogs, some discomfort to the dogs, three pregnancies, one miscarriage, one respiratory distress syndrome, millions of dollars, and a lot of lab time and effort ending in one live dog. The funny thing is the dogs did not have a clue what happened to them. On top of it, none of the dogs consciously asked the scientists for a puppy. They only act on their biological urge and not on need for a puppy. Has any dog felt the need for a puppy and thus engaged in coition for that express purpose? Hormone-induced pheromonal sexual urge is the primary and the only impeller of a dog and sexual intercourse as an  essential tool to make a puppy does not enter the imagination of a dog. The dog never connects coition and a puppy in its mind. The estimate is $1,000,000 per dog if some body wants cloning done. It was dog work for the scientists to come this far, while it is only a Glance for the Lord. They chose Afghans because they are sweet, affectionate, dumb and aloof according to dog lovers.  Yes, it took many generations of breeding to make them dumb because dumb is likable.

    All this is a prelude to human cloning. There are so many self-loving millionaires and billionaires who would like to clone themselves, give a shot and make a claim for immortality. There are some who would like to clone their children. Soon there will be a bank to store genetic material for use in human cloning. Where is God in all this? What is his place? Is he a passive onlooker in all this human endeavor? What would you say to Bhagavatam which says that all the ingredients of a life (human) came together, wanted to create a human but could not, until Isvara cast a glance at which time life animates the ingredients, which become a palpable breathing reality?

    Let us take the mechanics of cloning. An egg is necessary for human cloning, which the scientists have not made out of off-the-shelf chemicals. They remove the nucleus from the ovum and leave the rest inside; obviously whatever is left inside is necessary to sustain the introduced donated new nucleus and make it become an embryo. Scientists don't know what an ovum minus its nucleus is. So far they haven't taken the job of God. It appears so far that they needed 123 dogs, millions of dollars and a lot of invasive procedures to get one little Snuppy.  God is still in charge.

By inserting just four of the master regulator genes into skin cells, he showed the transcription factors made by the genes could reprogram the skin cell’s epigenome back into that of the embryonic cell from which it had been derived. The skin cell then behaved just like an embryonic cell, not a skin cell. Until then, biologists had no idea that the epigenome with its millions of marks could be recast so simply or that transcription factors could apparently call the shots so decisively.

Oct/2012 notes: Dolphins sustain bacteria-rich shark bites with no pain and yet regenerate the missing part. Their blubber has antimicrobials, natural analgesics (natural pain killers), and stem cells to control bleeding and regenerate the missing part.

A steroidal compound Squalamine in the shark binds with the hepatic cells and prevents replication of viruses. These bits of knowledge are helping doctors to devise treatment modalities in transplantation. Source Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. Oct 2012.

11/2007 notes: Scientists have succeeded to coax the skin cells (reprogramming) behave like embryonic cells. We need a cell that undergoes a rapid turnover: skin cells, bone marrow cells, intestinal lumen crypt cells. Skin cells are easy of access.  Remember we shed skin (Keratin layer) every day; that is Keratinocyte stem cells migrating from its nidus, the germinal layer differentiating into prickle cells, granular cells, lucidum cells, corneum cells and last dead keratin cells that our body is covered with. It is because of keratin layer that we do not become soggy and boggy, when we take a shower or sweat. Stem cells live in the midst of some cells that secrete a substance to keep the stem cells alive. The Keratinocyte Stem cell is already a differentiated cell (terminal cell) because it is not totipotent and can make only  those cells that I mentioned earlier. Keratinocyte stem cell cannot become the Insulin-secreting Beta cells of the pancreas.  You have to reprogram the Keratinocyte stem cell to go backwards to the original Totipotent Stem Cell. How do you do that? The human egg has growth factors that can help produce the stem cells. So the scientists have to introduce factors similar to them into the skin cell. You know a virus can sneak into a cell, so you employ a virus to carry (one or more of the six) genes (Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, Lin28, C-Myc, Klf4 ) necessary to coax the cell nucleus make stem cells. That virus is called a vector. The scientists knew the programming genes from mouse cell experiments.

By inserting just four of the master regulator genes into skin cells, he showed the transcription factors made by the genes could reprogram the skin cell’s epigenome back into that of the embryonic cell from which it had been derived. The skin cell then behaved just like an embryonic cell, not a skin cell. Until then, biologists had no idea that the epigenome with its millions of marks could be recast so simply or that transcription factors could apparently call the shots so decisively.  --NYTimes. Science 02/24/2009.

The problem with this is that the scientists have to find a way to silence these four genes after the totipotent stem cells are produced, because they worry they may cause, God forbid, cancer or some such thing. It is a Totipotent stem cell growth factor, which is only a hair-breadth away from making a cell cancerous. Once the Stem cells are harvested, the future is to transform the totipotent stem cells into 1) Dopamine-producing cells to treat Parkinson's disease, 2) insulin-secreting Beta cells of Pancreas to treat diabetics, 3) a host of other cells like cardiac muscle, spinal cord neural cells... This is called Stem Cell Therapy. There are 220 types of human cells in the body. These induced cells will play a critical role in repair of the body cells. At present donor organ transplantation  is fraught with rejection, and adverse outcomes from administration of immune modulators. These stem cells are the answer. This procedures takes the case out of controversy and all people of all persuasions agree on this. This is man's struggle to understand nature and god (Achit and Isvara to help embodied Chit).

    Since He is matter and all its manifestations, matter is non-different from Him. And yet all that you see in the universe is the effect of His external energy (bahiranga Māyā) and different from His Internal Potency (atma-maya). This is difference-non-difference.

  When you dream, you react to the events in the dream; if it amounts to a nightmare, you awaken in fright and know that it is not real. You remember the dream vividly and the effects show on you by way of sweating, palpitation, fright. This universe is a dreamlike creation of Isvara. This is the Monistic view. He, being the Supersoul,  is not affected by the nightmarish events that take place in this universe. He is part and parcel of everything and yet apart from all of them.  That is difference-non-difference.   Acintya philosophers believe that this world is real and not a dream; the world is dreamlike.

4.4: Arjuna said:

Your birth was later and Vivasvat's birth was earlier. Then how am I to know that you declared this to him in the beginning?

Arjuna is questioning the validity and veracity of Krishna's words. It is not uncommon for the devotees of the Lord or Goddess to question the veracity of god's words and actions. An example is cited here of Kamalakanta (born in 1773 in Bengal), devotee of Kali, questioning Her. It is not considered as insolence in Hindu religion to challenge God; it is a joust in love and devotion.

O Mother, You are full of Bliss! You are the enchantress of Siva. You dance in a delirious joy, clapping your hands. You are eternal and the First Cause. You are clothed in space (naked). You wear your moon on your eyebrow. Where did you find a garland of severed heads, before you made the universe?

The question is valid. Soon Kamalakanta changes his tune, challenge, and questioning stance and says, "What I say is berating but I say it in fondness for you. You are a confounder."

Arjuna and Krishna lived in the 28th Kali Yuga; Krishna lived also as Sun 28 Chatur Yugas before his incarnation.

4.5: Sri Bhagavan said:

You and I had many births before this birth, O Parantapa, and you do not remember them, while I do remember them all.

4.6: Though I am unborn, imperishable and the Lord of beings Isvarah, and am steady in my own nature, I myself come into being by My own māyā power.

Ātma-māyāyā: Māyā power.

 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 6 [ Page : 112 ] NOTES TAKEN DOWN IN MADRAS, 1892-93.

Keshab Chandra Sen compared society to an ellipse. God is the central sun. Society is sometimes in the aphelion and sometimes in the perihelion. An Avatar comes and takes it to the perihelion. Then it goes back again. Why should it be so? I cannot say. What necessity for an Avatara? What necessity was there to create? Why did He not create us all perfect? It is Lila (sport), we do not know.



When Krishna descends, he descends on His own free will; He incarnates with no dilution of his efficacy, without the stain of karma, and with kalyanagunas--auspicious qualities. Advaitins regard incarnation as a divine phenomenon. To Ramanujah, Krishna Avatar was real. When we say that God descended (incarnation) to this earth, it is God's mysterious yoga-māyā power.

Nobody questions the reason he made his avatār possible. His power is absolute, and incomprehensible to us human beings. Taking a human body for God from His pristine and perfect state is an imperfection and a steep descent. However, is it an imperfection or a steep descent? How could He diminish Himself? A descent is a transfer of amsa (fragment) of supernatural Himself, without any diluting effect. That amsa, that particle, is only one-millionth part of Him according to the Puranas. Such is His greatness: He did not diminish himself and there is no descent; It is a play activity; it is māyā. He becomes transitory by the power of his own prakrti in this world of impermanence through his divine power of illusive transformation in the spirit of childlike play activity. All this is mysterious Divine yoga-māyā power. Krishna says the gunas came out of Prakrti. He is not in the gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas), but they are in Him. If He is not in the gunas, there is no way that we could know Him by the power of those gunas, which we received from prakrti (matter). Man has to go beyond and transcend the gunas to know and become one with Him. There is a higher intuitive non-dialectical intellect and these gunas are an obstacle or an impediment to realization, for their utility is only for an ordinary mundane existence or life. He is the creator of gunas, a limiting factor, and a hurdle for a yogi: That is māyā, which is illusion. According to Jayakhya Samhita, Narāyana, the Supreme God comes down to earth in the form of a human being out of compassion, uplifts humanity from ignorance, and offers help in the form of sacred texts. Lord Vishnu picks a select group of human beings and breathes into them special powers so they can fulfill their role as saints, sages, and gurus or Acharyas, in spreading spiritual knowledge and give words of wisdom to all of us. God owns that special mystic power in its full spectrum and glory; He reveals a little of that mystic power to people like Einstein and Gandhi.

 Avatara takes place for the protection of Sadhus, to establish Dharma, and to destroy the evil doers. Bhagavan gave us life, Vedas for a life of righteousness, and a path to attain Him. With the passage of time, we deviated from the path of righteousness as said by the Vedas, became entangled in Samsara, lost our way and ride the wheel of life, death and rebirth. Bhagavan descended to offer the hand of rescue to us, roiling in the sea of Samsara.

Why is it that He has to come down? He is of unlimited Sakti. Can't He do things simply by thought? He could delegate His power? Why can't He send one of them to rescue us? Yes, He can dispatch them. The delegates are ready and willing.  That said, why does He take an Avatar?

There once was a powerful king. He took a big boat out into the sea with his preschooler son. A big wave tipped the boat enough to topple the youngster and throw him overboard. The king immediately jumped off the boat and rescued the son. There were his ministers, commander-in-chief, soldiers and servants. The king could have asked any one of them to rescue the child; that act would affirm his right and privilege as a king; it would not establish him as the father. When the king saw the child overboard, without a second thought, he jumped into the sea and saved his son. That is because he is the father first and foremost and then only a king. 

U.V. Krishnan Swamy in Tamil. Translation by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj


Isvarah: According to Visistadvaida, there is Isvara and prakara, the latter consisting of Chit and Achit (Cit and Acit). Prakara is Isvara’s manifestation of Himself in the visible universe: Chit is sentient consisting of all living units (including plants), both conscious and self-conscious; Achit is matter. The doctrine of Ramanuja considers Chit and Achit as the body of Isvara the third entity and consequently one with Him. What is the relationship between the world and Him? They are His body. He is the Antaratman (Inner Soul, Paramatman).  The individual soul is the driving force for the body, though Paramatman drives the individual soul. So the individual soul is part of His body.  In essence he pervades matter, the individual souls, and their bodies. To expand on this further, every atom has jiva or soul and is the saria (body) of that jiva it ensconces, while every jiva in its turn the body of Paramatman, who pervades every jiva and atom of matter.

All without exception are integral part of Paramatman: Sariira-Sariiri bhavam (Sariira-Atma bhavam = Body-Soul relationship). Chit and Achit do not exist without Isvara or Brahman; these three are in inseparable union.  Chit = sentient, Jiva; Achit = insentient and lifeless matter

Ramanuja's verse that depicts the essence of Vaishnavism, PratAna Pratitantram (Important opinion or doctrine)

Asesha Chit achit Vastu Seshine Sesa Saayine |

Nirmala ananta Kalyaana Nidhaye Vishnave Namaha ||


All the intelligent the unintelligent (the matter) articles ownership Sesa serpent reclining|

 purity infinity auspiciousness keeps to Vishnu salutation and surrender||

This verse is the keystone of Vishistadvaida edifice and Sri Vaishnava philosophy of Ramanuja. 

Meaning and purport: He is the owner, controller and inner dweller of all the intelligent, the unintelligent and matter. He reclines on the Sesa Serpent. He is purity, infinity and auspiciousness. Salutation and surrender to Vishnu, the all-pervasive Paramatman. the intelligent, the unintelligent = the sentient, the insentient and lifeless matter.  All are eternally and inseparably integral and subject to Him and exist for His purpose. Brahman is the Supersoul (Universal Soul, Over-Soul, World Soul) and Body of the universe of beings and matter. Though Brahman is the controller, Inner Soul, and Inner dweller (Isvavra, Antaratman, Antaryami- ஈஸ்வரா, அந்தராத்மன், அந்தர்யாமி) of one and all, He is not contaminated or affected by the impurities of the dwelling.

In Tamil, God is called Kadavul (கடவுள் = கட + உள் = கட = remain; வுள் or உள் = inside. = The One who remains inside. He is the Inner dweller or AntaryAmi in Sanskrit. He has no form; He is Light.

God is also known as Iraivan (இறைவன் = இறை + வன் (Irai + van) = The One who is in + the male; Goddess is known as Iraivi (இறைவி). = இறை + வி (Irai + Vi) = The One who is in + the female.  The terminal Van is male; Vi is female; both indicate God and Goddess

In Tamil, Vaishnavites call the Goddess (Sri, Lakshmi, Consort of Vishnu) ThAyAr (தாயார் or Mother); Saivites call the Goddess (Parvati, Consort of Siva) Amman (அம்மன் or Mother).  ThAyAr and Amman mean mother, though the words are sect-specific. Amman = Ammai = Annai (அம்மன் = அம்மை = அன்ன)

If you are good, you are good; if you are bad, you are bad; the Inner Dweller is not affected by your qualities; He remains pristine. He remains like the Diamond in the dirt or in a delightful exhibit; He is Diamond wherever He may be.

In vishistadvaida, there is an additional element, Atmathvaidam (ஆத்மாத்வைதம் = atmādvaitam = Atma + advaitam = atma + advaitam.) (ஆத்மாத்வைதம் = Atma + dvaitam = two souls: Universal and individual.)  What it means is that if you see one soul (ஆத்மா), you don't have to look at another soul. (You see one, you have seen them all.) They are all alike. Bhagavan remains as Antaryami in all the souls. It also means that all beings have two souls, one the individual soul and the second the Bhagavan the Inner Abiding Soul, common to all). If you see your neighbor, you are seeing yourself; he is a true reflection of you. All souls and the Universal Soul are all alike in all beings in a Hall of Mirrors.

Sesa serpent reclining =  Vishnu reclining on the Cosmic Serpent. Sesa means remainder.  Remainder is what was left after the world came out of the primordial waters. It also stands to mean the remains of the universe after destruction. Sesa emerged from dying Balarama, the older brother of Krishna and is the theriomorphic form of Vishnu. His fiery exhalations and KalAkula poison burn the world and the ashes dissolve in the waters indicating reversal to the undifferentiated state of the universe from which a new universe will emerge.  After this universal conflagration, the surviving entities are Vishnu and Sesa, upon which Vishnu reclines. The coils represent the endless cycle of Time.

auspiciousness: Supernal Vishnu is endowed with Kalyana gunas: Sat (Reality), Jnana (Supreme knowledge), Ananta (Infinity), Amalatva (Purity - lack of impurity), Ananda (Supreme Bliss).

Below is a depiction of a nearly abstract triune form of Krishna (Jagannatha = Master of the universe): a divine caricature or cartoon depiction of the three siblings, white Balarama, black Krishna and their sister Subhadra in the middle.

View from the West

The West points out that Krishna and Balarama were historical figures. The Yadhava prince Krishna, the Pandavas, the Kauravas and Jarasandha may not have been Aryans. Apotheosis of Krishna is NOT UNLIKE (like) the divinity of Christ; it is based on faith in Hinduism and Christianity. Heimann suggests that Krishna was probably an ancient god of cattle. --page 151, Harpers Dictionary of Hinduism.

Ramanuja calls the creative force as intelligent principle, also known as superconsciousness.  During dissolution, the events of creation  go in the reverse direction, and the prakrit  merges with the Brahman. The series of intermediate substances between  Prakrti and the manifested world at each end are  reversible and reproducible. Ramanuja feels that  the manifested world evolved from out of Brahman as the spider issues forth (exudes) the web from its body.  That is the creative part.  According to Brahmasamhita Text 13, the universe and the beings exude out of the porous body of the Lord.  When the spider reabsorbs the thread it is  involution or dissolution.  Thus Brahman is the efficient (instrumental) and material cause of this universe.  This universe and the life-monads are like the leaves on the tree.  It is like saying that the tree of an  universe is firmly anchored in Brahman by its roots.  The leaves (souls) do not have a separate existence.  

Matter:  It is like hair growing out of His body.  It is like saying that the insentient hair of an  insentient universe is projecting from a living body of Isvara. Author's note: To use a common idiom, Brahman (Isvara) says" That is my baby"  meaning the universe and the life-monads are His baby.  The only difference is that this baby is ever connected to Brahman by the umbilical cord  until dissolution, when the baby is reabsorbed.  The Puranas substantiate this story as follows with some modification. During and after the Great Deluge, Vishnu was floating in the water, he willed  and sprouted a lotus stalk from his navel  and created Brahma (see the painting above). Brahma sitting on the lotus was asked to create the gods, sages, the universe and all living beings. It is not like the potter who  takes the clay and makes the pot.  Clay is not part of himself, but external to the potter.  Author's note: To elaborate and illustrate, just imagine that  Brahman [through His Divine Surrogate Brahma]  is the potter, the clay, the potter's wheel, necessary  paraphernalia  and the pot.  He is all in One and Omnipotent.  

Ramanuja elucidates  the motive, the action and the result of Brahman's creation of this universe. He reasons as follows.  Motive could benefit the Doer Himself or others. Since the world is full of such evils like birth, death, old age, sickness and misery, why would He not create something new devoid of all these maladies?  (Author: When you get a rose, you get a rose with thorny stem.)   Ramanuja feels that this is all mere play activity - Lila / leela of Brahman.  This universe is his playground.  The motive is to amuse Himself.  His action is willing the evolution  and dissolution of prakrti.  The result is that this universe is here  for Brahman to play in, between creation and dissolution. Vedas assert that the Lord’s will and desire rise resulting in creation. He willed that He becomes many. He wanted to create beings. This will of God is called Māya. Māya power is personified as a female and is called Māya (considered as Durga, sister of Vishnu or Krishna). In this world of tears, there is a serious business of soul making. Eventually these souls go to Brahman and attain bliss.  Bhagavatam says that this female principle, Māya, is coeval with the Lord. The Lord is the three-fold cause (Trividha-kārana) of this universe: material (upādāna), instrumental or efficient (nimitta) and inductive (sahakāri = Saha+kāri = powerful, stimulating, inductive + Doer).

Isvarah or Narāyana (Vishnu) created four-faced Brahma who created Samkara (Rudra-Siva). Now we have the Hindu holy trinity: Vishnu, Brahma, and Samkara. Narāyana has not only created God Brahma, but also all the other gods and deities.  The diagram and flow chart depicts Mahavishnu is mostly imperceptible and slightly perceptible to us. His visible spectrum is immense, made of  zillion universes and beings. The visible spectrum projects the universe, gods, beings, Tattvas (building blocks) of the universe.... His Consorts (His Saktis or powers) and He are responsible for these emanations, derivatives and tattvas (building blocks).  All entities in the universe have three qualities: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas in different proportions. Translation is approximate: Virtue and goodness; motion and passion; darkness, sloth and slumber. Let me give you an example. Water is Sattva; steam is Rajas, Ice cube is Tamas. Narayana and His consort Sri give rise to gods; Narayana and Bhu, motor and sensory organs, mind...; Narayana and Nila, building blocks of the universe, the Great Elements, Tanmatras, inanimate elements. As you see, Narayana is the essential ingredient in this combinations. That is why Vishnu is Vibhu (all-pervasive).


Acarpous Karma is the prelude to descent of Grace into the soul.

Saiva Siddhantists have a different outlook on the soul, its body, its impurities (Mum-malam = மும்மலம்), the ripening and falling of impurities (Malaparipakam-மலபரிபாகம்), good and bad Karmas coming to Null status (Iruvinai oppu-இருவினையொப்பு), descent of grace into the soul (Saktinipatam-சக்திநிபாதம்), and merger (odukkam--ஒடுக்கம்). Primer in Saiva Siddhanta,   Sivam The soul according to Saiva Siddhanta

Mum-malam = மும்மலம்;  malaparipakam = மலபரிபாகம்;  Iruvinaiyoppu = இருவினையொப்பு; SakthinipAtham = சக்திநிபாதம்.

Now coming down to earth plane, Swami Vivekananda said:  Krishna is the most rounded man I know of, wonderfully developed equally in brain, and heart, and hand. He is a gentleman, a warrior, a minister, a scholar, and a poet with exquisite language. His perfect sanity.... No cobwebs in his brain, no superstition... He knows the use of everything; He had the greatest calmness and peace amid intense activity. With the missiles flying all around him, he goes on discussing the problem of life and death in a calm and sedate manner. Vivekananda makes you believe for a fleeting moment that Krishna is human: That is māyā or illusion.

4.7: Whenever and wherever there is decline of dharma (righteousness), and a rise of adharma (unrighteousness), then I send forth Myself.

Dharma is not just righteousness; dharma is to dhri, meaning to sustain or preserve; therefore, dharma is sustainer of this universe. (At the cosmic level the law is Rta or Rtam; Sanskrit Rta, English Right, Persian arta, and Latin ritus are cognate.) The Lord is the Supreme Sustainer of the universe; therefore, He descends when there is a descent in dharma. Dharma is the law for the evolution of the universe; this is Pravrtti, continuation, motion or forward movement; this is unfolding of tattvas (building blocks) and a centrifugal movement away from the Great Soul. By observing dharma, evolutionary unfolding is reversed by involution by which the individual soul finds its way back to Godhead.  This is Nivrtti, cessation of forward movement, retrograde or centripetal movement of Jiva towards the source, the Great World Soul. Practicing dharma is to sync with the laws of universe.  Pravrtti (evolution) is moving forward to a life on earth.  Nvirrti (involution) is beating the path back to Godhead. The soul is the traveler in this dual act. Pravrtti is descent of the soul; Nvirrti is ascent of the soul. In Pravrtti, the soul is contaminated; in Nvirrti the soul is pure. In Pravrtti, the soul takes on the body; in Nivirrti the soul sheds the body. The soul that is not completely pure will be recycled in a body of a human, animal, plant, worm again and again until it becomes pure to beat a path of Nvirrti and merge with the Supernal Supersoul. The purification process can happen only in a human being and not an animal. Man born as animal in this birth will have to be born again as a human to pick up that purification process. Man is nearer to God than an animal, though Hindu mythology believes that animals attain salvation under exceptional circumstances.

There is historical proof that an Avatār, a Saint, a Guru, or a teacher appears in this world, whenever there is adharma in this world. When the balance between good and evil or righteousness and unrighteousness weighs heavily towards evil, disruptive, and ungodly side, the Lord becomes an Avatar: Lord Krishna descends into the world as an Avatār to correct the unrighteousness, and save the human race.

Adharma is the personification of injustice, unrighteousness and vice; therefore, Himsa (violence or injury) is personification of Adharma's wife. What an apt couple!  Vishnu Purana states they beget children true to their character: Anrta (falsehood) and Nikrti (immorality). They intermarry and beget two sons Bhaya (Fear) and Naraka (Hell) and twin girls Maya (deceit) and Vedana (torture); the girls marry their brothers; Bhaya and Maya had one son Mrtyu (Death); Naraka and Vedana (siblings) have a son , Duhkha (pain). The children of Mrtyu are Vyadhi (disease), Jata (Decay), Soka (Sorrow), Trishna (Greediness) and Krodha (Wrath). The incestuous progeny comes to an end. It is worthwhile to know that Vishnu has in Him all the qualities; the above members of the pedigree are the terrific forms of Bhagavan Vishnu. Nothing good or bad happens in this world without his knowledge. Virtue and evil are two sides of a  person; which one dominates determines the character of the person or the world.


Let us take the latest incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Before Buddha appeared in the world as an avatar of Vishnu, materialism was rampant in India, which, in those days, was that of an unrestrained enjoyment of senses, widespread public drunkenness, and bubbling godless Epicureanism. They had no use for God, soul, heaven, or hell. They laughed at and ridiculed the priests, and there existed an alarming decline in the spiritual life of people, which consisted of "Eat-drink-and-be-happy." There was a widespread abrogation of social contracts and evil in the land. Then came Buddha; he did not teach any God to anybody, but he brought the Vedanta to the people's attention. That brought about a rapid conversion of Indian masses to Buddhism; and as a reaction to Buddhism, the Gods and Goddesses enjoyed a new life in man's consciousness and Sanātana dharma came back to life. Sanātana dharma means “Eternal established order” according to Sanskrit dictionary and is the proper name for Hinduism. The Greeks (Alexander) called them as the people living east of Sindhu (Indus River); Greeks of that age dropped the S and called the River, Indu. Then came along the Afghans and the Persians; The Parsees came along and in their language S becomes H (think of the difference in pronunciation of Joseph and Josè); Sindhu became Indu and later Hindu. The versatile tongue and languages of India have nothing to do with the term Hindu.

 Buddhism did not take hold in India because it had no roots in Upanishads. Then Hinduism’s revival came and Buddhism almost died in India, but other countries embraced it. The Buddha was the first to induct female Bikshus (also Bikku or monk), though he had an inkling that the monks of both genders might consort with each other. This had been the case that started the decline of Buddhism in South India, as recorded by historians. Buddhism allows eating of flesh as long as the eater does not butcher the animal; there are some who find fault with that idea.  Sankara and Ramanuja hastened the decline of Buddhism by their mere words, philosophy and arguments. In olden days, religious leaders settled scores by public discussion and disputation. That was serious business. Kings and their subjects changed religion and joined the winner.  If it is not for Sankara's and Ramanuja's efforts, there would not have been re-conversion of people back to Hinduism. South India and possibly the rest of the country would have stayed in Buddhist and Jain camps. Buddhism and Jainism have their own glorious heritage and merit, though they succumbed to superior dialectic prowess of Sankara, Ramanuja, Alwars and Nayanars. In many ways the native-born Buddhism and Jainism contributed to Hinduism's rise to a higher plane of civilized behavior: Ahimsa, lessening of animal sacrifice, suspension of horse sacrifice....

The View from the West about The Buddha as told in Myths and Legends of India by Donald A. Mackenzie


Vishnu's Buddha Avatara was assumed, according to orthodox teaching, to bring about the destruction of demons and wicked men who refused to acknowledge the inspiration of the Vedas and the existence of deities, and were opposed to the caste system. This attitude was assumed by the Brahmans because Buddhism was a serious lay revolt against Brahmanical doctrines and ceremonial practices.

Buddha, " the Enlightened ", was Prince Siddartha of the royal family Gautama, which, as elsewhere told, ruled over a Sakya tribe. At his birth marvelous signs foretold his greatness. Reared in luxury, he was kept apart from the common people; but when the time of his awakening came, he was greatly saddened to behold human beings suffering from disease, sorrow, and old age. One night he left his wife and child, and went away to live the life of a contemplative hermit in the forest, with purpose to find a solution for the great problem of human sin and suffering. He came under the influence of Upanishadic doctrines, and at the end of six years he returned and began his mission.

Buddha, the great psychologist, was one of the world's influential teachers, because his doctrines have been embraced in varying degrees of purity by about a third of the human race. Yet they are cold and unsatisfying and gloomy. The " Enlightener's " outlook on life was intensely timid and pessimistic ; he was an "enemy of society" in the sense that he made no attempt to effect social reforms so as to minimize human suffering, which touched him with deepest sympathy, but unfortunately filled him with despair; his solution for all problems was Death; he was the apostle of benevolent Nihilism and Idealistic Atheism.

There is no supreme personal god in Buddhism and no hope of immortality. Gods and demons and human beings are "living creatures"; gods have no power over the Universe, and need not be worshipped or sacrificed to, because they are governed by laws, and men have nothing to fear from them.

Buddha denied the existence of the Self-Soul of the Upanishads. Self is not God, in the sense that it is a phase of the World Soul. The " self-state" is, according to the " Enlightener", a combination of five elements of matter, feeling, imagination, will, and consciousness ; these are united by Karma,' the influence which causes life to repeat itself. Buddha had accepted, in a limited sense, the theory of Transmigration of Souls. He taught, however, that rebirth was the result of actions and desire. " It is the yearning for existence'', he said, "which leads from new birth to new birth, which finds its desire in different directions, the desire for pleasure, the desire for existence, the desire for power." Death occurs when the five elements which constitute life are divided ; after death nothing remains but the consequences of actions and thoughts. Rebirth follows because "the yearning", the essence of " works ", brings the elements together again. The individual exists happily, or the reverse, according to his conduct in a former life; sorrow and disease are results of wrong living and wrong thinking in previous states of existence.

The aim of the Buddhist is to become the "master of his fate". Life to him is hateful because, as the Enlightener taught, " birth is suffering, death is suffering; to be joined to one thou dost not love is suffering, to be divided from thy love is suffering, to fail in thy desire is suffering; in short, the fivefold bonds that unite us to earth --those of the five elements-- are suffering". As there can be no life without suffering in various degrees, it behooves the believer to secure complete emancipation from the fate of being reborn. Life is a dismal and tragic failure. The Buddhist must therefore destroy the influence which unites the five elements and forms another life. He must achieve the complete elimination of inclination-- of the yearning for existence. Buddha's "sacred truth", which secures the desired end, is eight-fold--"right belief, right resolve, right speech, right action, right life, right desire, right thought, and right self-absorption ". The reward of the faithful, who attains to perfect knowledge, unsullied by works, is eternal emancipation by Nirvana, undisturbed repose or blissful extinctions, which is the Supreme Good. If there had been no belief in rebirth, the solution would have been found in suicide.

 Buddha's negative attitude towards immortality and the conception of a Supreme Being was departed from by those of his followers who have taught that Nirvana is a conscious state of eternal bliss.


Buddha taught that the four Noble Verities are: (I) pain, (2) desire, the cause of pain, (3) pain is extinguished by Nirvana, (4) the way which leads to Nirvana. The obliteration of Desire is the first aim of the Buddhist. This involves the renunciation of the world and of all evil passions; the believer must live a perfect life according to the Buddhist moral code, which is as strict as it is idealistic in the extreme. "It does not express friendship, or the feeling of particular affection which a man has for one or more of his fellow creatures, but that universal feeling which inspires us with goodwill towards all men and constant willingness to help them."'

Belief in the sanctity of life is a prevailing note in Buddhism. The teacher forbade the sacrifice of animals, as did Isaiah in Judah.

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me ? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats."       Isaiah, i,II

Brahmanism was influenced. in this regard, for offerings to Vishnu were confined to cakes, curds, sweetmeats, flowers, oblations, &c.

Buddha, the enemy of the priesthood, was of the Kshatriya caste, and his religion appears to have appealed to aristocrats satiated with a luxurious and idle life, who felt like the Preacher that "all is vanity"; it also found numerous adherents among the wandering bands of unorthodox devotees. The perfect Buddhist had to live apart from the world, and engage for long intervals in introspective contemplation so as to cultivate by a stern analytic process that frame of mind which enabled him to obliterate Desire blankly and coldly. Familiar statues of Buddha show the posture which must be assumed; the legs are crossed and twisted, and the hands arranged to suggest inaction; the eyes gaze on the bridge of the nose.

Monastic orders came into existence for men and women, but the status of women was not raised. From these orders were excluded all officials and the victims of infectious and incurable diseases. A lower class of Buddhists engaged in worldly duties. Although Buddha recognized the caste system, his teaching removed its worst features, for Kshatriyas and converted Brahmans could accept food from the Sudras without fear of contamination. Kings embraced the new religion, which ultimately assumed a national character.

Missionaries were from the earliest times sent abroad, and Buddhism spread into Burma, Siam, Anam, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Java, and Japan. The view is suggested that its influence can be traced in Egypt. " From some source," writes Professor Flinders Petrie, " perhaps the Buddhist mission of Asoka, the ascetic life of recluses was established in the Ptolemaic times, and monks of the Serapeum illustrated an ideal to man which had been as yet unknown in the West. This system of monasticism continued until Pachomios, a monk of Serapis in Upper Egypt, became the first Christian monk in the reign of Constantine."'

Jainism, like Buddhism, was also a revolt against Brahmanic orthodoxy, and drew its teachers and disciples chiefly from the aristocratic class. It was similarly influenced in its origin by the Upanishads. Jainites believe, however, in soul and the world soul; they recognize the Hindu deities, but only as exalted souls in a state of temporary bliss achieved by their virtues; they also worship a number of " conquerors " or " openers of the way ",


as Buddhism, in debased form, recognizes Buddha and his disciples as gods, and allows the worship here of a tooth and there of a hair of the Enlightener, as well as sacred mounds connected with his pilgrimages. In the gloomy creed of the Jainites it is taught that " emancipation" may be hastened by rigid austerities which entail systematic starvation. Many Jainites have in their holy places given up their lives in this manner, but the practice is now obsolete.

In the Age which witnessed the decline of Buddhism in India, and the rise of reformed Brahmanism, the religious struggle was productive of the long poems called the Puranas (old tales) to which we have referred. In these productions some of the ancient myths about the gods were preserved and new myths were formulated. They were meant for popular instruction, and especially to make converts among the unlettered masses. Their authors were chiefly of the Vishnu cult, which had perpetuated the teachings of the unknown sages who at the close of the Brahmanical Age revolted against impersonal Pantheism, the ritualistic practices of the priesthood, and the popular conceptions regarding the Vedic deities who ensured worldly prosperity, but exercised little influence on the character of the individual.

Indra and Agni and other popular deities were not, however, excluded from the Pantheon, but were divested of their ancient splendor and shown to be subject to the sway of Brahma, their Lord and Creator; whose attributes they symbolized in their various spheres of activity. Vishnuites taught that Vishnu was Brahma, and Shivaites that Shiva was the supreme deity.

In this way, it would appear, the authors of the Puranas effected a compromise between immemorial beliefs and practices and the higher religious conceptions towards which the people were being gradually elevated.

Saiva View of evil: the real-life story of Appar (CE590-671)

When Buddhism and Jainism were on the ascent, it is said, that the Saiva Siddhantists worried about false doctrines and alien religions; a son of God was born in the name of Thirugnana Sambandar in Tamil Nadu to rid the country of Jainism and reintroduce Saivism, Vedism and Tamil culture. Think of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Buddhists and Jains actively converted the masses and spoke ill of Saivism. This recurring theme occurs in the songs of Nayanars.  Appar, originally a Hindu, became a Jain monk. He suffered abdominal pain and begged for Siva's help in alleviating the pain, which ceased. Immediately under the cover of darkness he left the Jain monastery to take refuge at the feet of Siva. The Saiva (formerly Jain Monk) saint was brought before the king upon the complaint of Jain monks  for changing his faith from Jainism to Saivism.  Jain King Mahendra Varman of Kanchi tortured him, but Appar was not affected, because of his faith in Siva and Mantra, Om Namasivaya.  The king of Paandinaadu was a converted Jain and his citizens converted to Jainism, except the queen and the chief minister. (The Pallavas were Jains and ruled Kanchipuram and Pataliputram.) After seeing the survival of Appar at his hands, the king became a devotee of Siva, destroyed the Jain Monastery and built a Siva Temple at Virattanam. Appar [CE 590-671], born in a farmer family in South Arcot, Tamil Nadu, is one of the Saiva saint-poets. He travels the length and breadth of India singing the glories of Siva. He receives vision of Siva and Sakti in Kailas. He is a humble devotee of Siva cleaning temples he visits. He, many years his senior,  is called Appar (father) by his contemporary child-poet, Sambandar.

Princely Vardhamana rejuvenated Jainism concept; the name Mahavira came about following his enlightenment in 600 B.C. Mahavira = Great hero. Latin Vir (virtue) and Sanskrit Vira connote virtue and heroism. It was a protest movement against animal sacrifice: Ahimsa (non-injury) is the central tenet of Jainism. (Puranas did not recommend animal sacrifices; instead, seeds older than three years, not capable of sprouting, were recommended for sacrificial use.) He opposed Yajna and Jñāna Margas, and he believed in Karma and Samsāra. Karma is a sticky stuff, as Vāsanā (perfume) that clings to the Jiva, weighs it down, and prevents it from moving up to Isatprāgbhara, which means “slightly tilted” dome or sphere. That is the supreme destination for the liberated Jivas. These Jivas (individual souls) stay down at various levels of existence ranging from matter, to plant, to ameba, to animal, to man according to the weight of Karma of the individual entity. As the Karmic load lightens, the bubble, the individual soul, rises from the lowest possible regions through intermediate zones to Isatprāgbhara, where supreme and splendid isolation (Kaivalya) is the norm. (All this sounds like distillation in a lab.) How is it possible that all these Jivas or monads gather on the crowded undersurface of this tilted dome or the cranial bone (its other name), which is whiter than milk, shinier than the most lustrous gold, and more translucent than a crystal, to enjoy a splendid isolation? It is not isolation in the ordinary sense. As the Jiva rises higher and higher from the lowest to the highest, it sheds the dissolved impurities (Karma); when it reaches the undersurface of the tilted dome, it is clear, translucent, and pure. The many-times-distilled and rising bubble undergoes isolation from all impurities: That is isolation from all dualities and impurities of the world such as pleasure and pain; love and hate; vagaries of life; the sights, the sounds, and the smells; and the limits of being matter, plant, animal and human. The conditioned, limited, and deficient knowledge of the human being stays behind and the Jiva in splendid isolation (from the impurities) is all awareness, all knowledge, all Truth, and all omniscience.

Mahavira (599 BCE- 527 BCE) recommends Mahavrata (Great vows--you remember the Great Vows we make every New Year) for the liberation of the soul:  renunciation of  1) killing, 2) untruths in all its forms, 3) greed, and 4) sexual pleasure, 5) attachments to living beings and inanimate things.  Though Mahavira was a prince, he wandered around and wore only one a loincloth for one year; when it was no longer wearable, he was walking the earth naked. He did not have any possessions, neither a begging bowl nor a staff. That is extreme renunciation of attachment. His vow of Ahimsa (non-injury) took him to extremes in allowing insects, bugs and other critters dine on him without any interference.

    Nirvana is extinction, which brings an end to samsara or recurring births and deaths. The Jain Yogi's main aim in life is extinction, leaving behind matter and dying with translucent beauty, dignity, and spirit. Jains believe that the soul (monad) is colored  black (gross activity stain), dark blue, smoky, red, yellow, and white; all these colors are impurities of the soul, which in its pristine state is translucent and colorless like the rising bubble. Action begets reaction and more accumulation of contaminating matter and karma; action here includes violence. The Jain Yogi prefers no action, no movement, no eating, no thinking and eventually no breathing; all passions are quenched; love of life (motion, passion, action) is quelled; dying before quelling and quenching will result in rebirth. Moving and breathing kills life unseen by the naked eye and turbulence created by motion and breathing is violence (Extreme Ahimsa); thus, Jain Monks believe that cessation of movement and respiration lead to Nirvana. Any trace of contaminating matter on the soul before death will result in coming back to earth.

    For a Jain Yogi, proper death is Nirvana. By his Tapas (heat), he destroys matter. Joseph Campbell says that Yoga technique and practice were developed by Yogis of the Dravidian race in the Indus Valley. "Non­violence does not belong to the Aryans--it must come from the earlier, Dravidian tradition. The Aryans were quite violent, as we can see from the Homeric epics."  (Myths of Light by Joseph Campbell, page 97.) 

At present, Hindu-oriented Indians believe that there is no such thing as Aryan and Dravidian. I heard the following sentiments recently from prominent Hindus. (July 2008) They say, "We are one race; We are Indians; We look different among ourselves and are of different color, all  because of the region and the latitude and longitude of the earth we live in. The Colonial British wove this dual tone woof and warp, dichotomy of Indian people, Aryan and Dravidian to divide and rule. Dravidian means the southern dweller and is no reference to a race different from Indo-Aryan. Indian politicians play the race card for personal gain. In olden days, the Lingua Franca in India among the elite was Sanskrit. That is how Sankaracharya, Ramanuja and others were able to spread their philosophy east to west and south to north. If you take temple rituals in all of India, one of the major reformist and contributor in his days was Ramanujacharya of Tamil Nadu. Sankara of Kerala (Dravida Sisu = Child from the southern country, no reference to race) established Mutts all over India. Both were Southerners. Sankaracharya codified the umpteen Hindu sects into six sects. They communicated all through India in Sanskrit.  In fact, Sanskrit is the Mother language of Indo-European languages and India the birth place of  human speech and numerals (0). Languages in India are heavily indebted to Sanskrit because a significant percentage of the loan-words are from Sanskrit. As to castes, no one is a born into or of natal caste. One is a Brahmana purely on the basis of his nature and self and this paradigm applies to all castes. Even the present-day Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists... are all Hindus because they were originally Hindus. You can call them as belonging to many religions but one cannot take away the Hindu genes from their genome. If you take away the Hindu genes, they no longer exist. Hinduism is built-in in their genome. You can take them away from Hinduism but you cannot take them away from Hindu genes because they wear Hindu genes. We embrace all Indians, all nations, the whole world."

    Mahavira had an interesting birth. Indra, a god common to Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains sent his minion and messenger Harinaigamesha (who doubles [triples] as an embryo transplant surgeon) to transfer embryo from the womb of a Brahmana lady to that of a Warrior caste (Ksatriya) woman, who eventually gave birth to Mahavira.  Harinaigamesha had a deer (or goat) head and a body of a human.  Mahavira showed concern to animals and opposed animal sacrifice; he believed that all jivas are living and therefore killing perpetuates incarnations or rebirths by build-up of karma. Karma marga (karma or action path) is the mainstay of his philosophy. Mahavira brought Lord Krishna’s doctrine of ahimsa (noninjury) to the forefront: Noninjury in thought, word, and deed is the mainstay of Jainism. Jainism rejected the caste system and superiority of one caste or race over another: Again, it is one of the teachings of Lord Krishna. Jains worship Ambika, Balarama, Chakreshvari, Krishna and Lakshmi.

Preaching Ahimsa

Gandhi teaching Ahimsa


4.8: For protecting the good and the virtuous, for destructing the evildoers or the facinorous and for establishing righteousness (dharma), I am born from age to age.


When the facinorous wights in the world create disequilibrium, spiritualism declines, which has a multiplier effect on the world from a communal to a national to a global scale. Bhagavan can easily push some buttons and fix these differences, which is not the way Bhagavan manages his work. He wants to descend on this earth and show us the higher path, by living the life on earth himself: Man lives by example of a realized soul; and Bhagavan is the Greatest Soul. Living among us and going through life's difficulties, and trials and tribulations, He never strays from the righteous path. He suspends his divine abilities and qualities and lives like a human being suffering for humanity and setting examples: That is a true descent for the ascent of man. He is Bliss Himself. Why is this descent necessary? Only by not setting himself above and apart from us, He makes us feel that He is one among us, instills faith in us, and makes us follow his ways.

(Facinorous = extremely wicked, wight = any living being.  simply evildoers or wicked people)

In the wild, elephants follow a senior elephant in search of a water hole in a dry season and walk hundreds of miles for the water hole. The senior elephant knows from previous dry seasons, what the younger ones do not know or never experienced.

When Krishna descends, it is as if harmful forces, chaos, and degradation of the spirit trigger an alarm for an automatic descent: It is like the fire alarm, which turns the sprinkler on automatically when the sensors detect fire. It is in the same manner that Krishna descends and assumes a human form to free us from evil and adharma and lead us to goodness, dharma, and bliss. He lives out a life of self-sacrifice for humanity. You could see that in the life, times and practice of Ramanamaha Rishi who brings us a little closer to God. We might have to go through several lifetimes to attain oneness with Brahman, but he makes it a little easier to achieve and happen sooner. He can only guide but the real work is on us. Do you not see a manifestation of His goodness in Gandhi and Mother Theresa, those two good souls? Gandhi and mother Teresa are not descents or avatārs but God endowed them each with a special quality to uplift humanity: They have a little amsa (particle) of God in them.

4.9: He, who knows my birth and work as divine in their true nature and accepts them as the Truth, will not be born again on leaving his body and comes to me O Arjuna. 

जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ।

त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन 4-9

janma karma ca me divyamevam yo vetti tattvatah

tyaktavā deham punarjanma naiti māmeti so'rjuna

My birth and work are divine.  This is an important statement by Bhagavan Krishna. Our birth and work are conditioned by karma; it is because of karma we are born in this world; it is because of work we generate karma.  Karma does not condition Krishna’s birth; His work does not generate Karma.  Birth and work of Bhagavan are divine. His birth and work elevate humanity; His act is not mere act but comes under the title, Lila. His act is Play of Avatara.

Here is the reason why Vishnu takes birth in this world as depicted in VAyu PurAna, Book II: Chapter 35. Vishnu's incarnation in the world of humans is because of the curse of Bhrgu Muni; the curse came about by the struggle between the good and the bad (the gods and demons = Suras and Asuras are half-brothers born of one father Kasyapa and two mothers--sisters--Aditi and Diti). Hiranyakasipu was a Daitya king in the line of Diti and ruled over three worlds. The Suras and Asuras got along well for ten Yugas.

All these Yugas as depicted below are in years of the Mortals






Krita Yuga

1,728,000 Years

Age of Perfection



Treta Yuga

1,296,000 Years

Age of Triad



Dvāpara Yuga

864,000 Years

Age of Doubt



Kali Yuga

432,000 years

Age of Vice



Maha Yuga (total)

4,320,000 years




The tiff between the Suras and Asuras deteriorated into twelve wars over patrimony. The first one was Narasimha Avatra, the Man-Lion incarnation; the second VAmana or the Dwarf incarnation; the third VArAha or Boar incarnation; the 4th one at the time of churning of the milk ocean; the 5th one the war of TArakAmaya from the abduction of TAtA by Chandra; the 6th one Adhibaka; the 7th oneTraipura; the 8th AndhakAra; the 9th Dhvaja; the 10th VArta; 11th HalAhala; and the 12th KolAhala. All these wars were won by the gods.

An American became a Hindu and Saivite and took (was conferred) the name of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. This is what he says about Karma: Siva's followers never govern youth through fear. They are forbidden to spank or hit them, use harsh or angry words, neglect or abuse them. They know you can't make children do better by making them feel worse.

Karmic chain: Those who do not believe in the law of karma, this does not make any sense whatsoever. This is just 'Hindu Talk.'  But look at it like this. What goes around comes around. What you sow, you will finally, probably, reap and eat. Therefore, if you have got to eat it when it comes back, make sure it tastes good."

The scriptures say that a dying person’s wish comes to fruition. If he thinks of ancestors, he goes to the world of ancestors or pitrs; if he thinks of gods, he goes to the world of gods; if a devotee thinks of Lord Krishna, he goes to Him, the highest of all abodes for the freed soul. What a man thinks at the moment of death are thoughts that were close to his heart all his life and he would not change them at the dying moment.  Pinda (food) and water are served to seven generations of Pitrs by the offspring. 

The enlightened embodied soul covered by the kosas or sheaths and burdened by karma is eager to go home to its original bliss. The kosas fall; the karmic inflows into the subtle body stop; the null karma reaches the final phase, and becomes a zero-sum entity; and the self is ready to go home to its original state, that is SatChitAnanda (Being, Consciousness and Bliss). The cycle of birth and rebirth breaks down at the moksa’s doorstep. Tantra sastras say that Karmic sheath separates man from Mother Goddess; once the karma is removed, man is similar to Mother Goddess.

Ramanujacharya recommends Prapatti and Saranagatti as means to gain the Grace of God. A Yogi arrives at bliss by performing Kundalini yoga, which is a difficult task even for a highly trained disciplined mind, and many yogis, pundits, gurus, teachers, sages, saints, and poets attest to the truth of that fact. What happens to the souls of the teeming masses, who too need and deserve moksa but lack discipline? This is where Prapatti (Pious Resignation) and Saranagati (total Loving Surrender) come. By this two-part prescription, which is good for all, the devotee accepts he is at the mercy and control of the almighty compassionate Isvara or Vishnu or Krishna; thus, moksha is within the grasp of every human being, irrespective of the educational, spiritual, or yogic levels of accomplishment. A sinner and a sage are equal in the eyes of Lord. Krishna says in BG, C18V66: "Abandon all duties. Take refuge in Me. I will erase all sins. No more grieving."  "Abandoning duties" means performing duties without attachment or desire for rewards or fruits and dedicating them to the Lord. Karma comes from action that seeks rewards. Sins accrue from bad actions, resulting in bad karma, which brings undesirable consequences. Saranagata Raksa is not something every god can give to a devotee. The god must have two qualities to offer Saranagata Raksa (Surrender-protection, protection of the surrendered): power and compassion. Krishna has both. Examples where one is present and the other absent are: Parasurama has the power but not the compassion and Indra has the compassion but not the power. Let me cite the example of Indra.

In Mahabharata beginning, this story is illustrative of compassion without power: Dashakan snake bites Parikshit who dies. His son Janamejayan performed Sarpa Yagam. Dakshakan, being afraid of the Yagam takes refuge (Saranagati—Total surrender without condition) with Indra, who reaffirms his willingness to offer protection. The Janamejayan’s Homa is in progress and all the snakes enter the fire and die under the centripetal force of Deathly Yagam. Janamejayan questions why the culpable serpent has not come for its tryst with fiery death. All come to know that the serpent has taken refuge with Indra and stays coiled up on one of the legs of Indra’s throne. The Homam’s magnetic power draws Indra’s throne, Indra and the snake to the fiery Homam. Indra disengages and runs off leaving his serpent friend to his devices. Later the serpent is saved. Indra has the compassion and willingness, but not the power to counteract the Homam’s power and sustain the protection to Dakshakan. Parasurama in another sense had the power but not the compassion. The lesson is that we should seek Saranagati with the God who has both the power and compassion.

4.10: Freed from desire, fear, and anger, absorbed in, and regarding Me as their sole refuge, and purified by jnāna (wisdom) and meditation, many people attained to My nature.

Variar (வாரியார்), as he was affectionately and reverentially called by the Tamils, lived in Tamil Nadu (25 August 1906--7th of Nov.1993). He was an ardent devotee of Lord Muruga (Skanda in Sanskrit and Kandan-கந்தன்- in Tamil). He came from a family with a long tradition of Tamil Scholarship and devotion. He never had a formal education, but excelled in religion, music, literature, grammar, instruments (Vina). He committed thousands of poems to memory and spoke extempore to his spell-bound audience. His humility and his ever-present divine smile are marks of his inner peace and holiness. He started composing lyrics at eight years of age and wrote many books.


வாரியார் சுவாமிகளின் அமுதமொழிகள்:  Variar Swamigal's Nectarian words

அடக்க முடியாதது--ஆசையும் துக்கமும் -- The Indomitables--Desire and Sorrow

அழிவைத் தருவது--பொறாமையும் கோபமும்-- The Destroyers--Jealousy and Anger

அழிக்க முடியாதது--கல்வியும் ஞானமும்-- The Indestructbles--Learning and Wisdom

இருக்க முடியாதது--அமைதியும் நிதானமும்-- The Fleeting--Tranquility and Patience

உடன் வருவது--பாவமும் புண்ணியமும்-- The clingers-- Sin and Merit*

எல்லார்க்கும் சமமாவது--பிறப்பும் இறப்பும்-- The Equalizers of all-- Birth and Death

கடைத்தேற வழி--பக்தியும் தியானமும்-- The liberators-- Bhakti and Meditation

காணத்தக்கது--மயிலிம் கருடனும்-- The sights-- Peacock and Eagle

வணங்கத் தக்கவர்கள்--தாய், தந்தை, குரு.-- The 'worshipful'-- Mother, Father, Guru

The Accompanying clingers-- Sin and Merit* = The subtle body is the repository of Karma (Sin and merit) that goes from body to body from birth to rebirth, until they are resolved to a zero sum status when one achieves liberation.

Scriptures say that man is his thought, vac (word, speech), mind, deed, body, and prāna (life force). Sin and virtue apply at these levels, and karma is the result. Man’s realization of his Self is purifying. Karma guarantees samsāra. Elimination of the fetters of samsāra is the aim of life. The purifiers are ablutions, meditation and Jnāna (wisdom); Jnāni, steady in wisdom and meditation, becomes the knower of the Self or Brahman; and thus, he burns karma and gains moksa or liberation.

Freedom from desire, Vairagya, has four phases: mental effort, physical isolation, mental isolation, and extinction of desire (Yatamana Samjana, Vyatireka Samjana, Ekendriya Samjana, and Vasikara Samjana.)  Yatamana = effort. Vyatireka = avoidance. Ekendriya = one sense. Vasikara = subjugation or subduing (of desire.) In Ekendriya the senses are stilled but the mind is not. The mind still juggles with love and hate, pleasure and pain; mind is still attached to opposites. Uparati is the final stage, when the senses, though fully aware, do not register any voltaic current on the individual upon presentation of sense objects. What it means in one aspect is that a Vairagin can move in the midst of a galaxy of earthly or heavenly beauties and does not register any amplitudes in his meter. He can move in the world of intriguing passions and inviting objects and yet shows stillness of mind and senses.

Vairāgya, Vyagra, (Viagra), Vīra and Divya according to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Of course Ramakrishna was not alive when Viagra for Erectile Dysfunction was introduced. His teachings pertain to it.

Monier-Williams Dictionary, page number below.

Vairāgya, Vyagra, Vyāghra, Viagra, Vīra, Divya.

Vairāgya: Sanskrit, page 1025; freedom from desire and passion or worldly desires.

Vyagra: Sanskrit, page 1029; Great Excitement; Intense Occupation. Viagra: patent name pill for ED. I submit that the name Viagra is derived from Sanskrit word for Great Excitement.

Vyāghra: Sanskrit, page 1036; Tiger.;

Vira: Sanskrit page 1005, An adept in Tantric practice, a stage between Pasu and Divya. Vira's sexual practices are according to Tantric dictates. TANTRA

Divya: Sanskrit page 479, the third stage in Tantric practice, which is divine and denotes freedom from desires and passions.


Householders raise children in their productive years and some in latter years go in exclusive pursuit of God giving up desires and passions. That is Vairagya.  Having sex only to have children according to Ramakrishna is the correct attitude and practice. Most of us are guilty of recreational sex. This is where Viagra comes in. Viagra sounds similar to Vyaghra (Tiger, Go get Tiger!) and Vyagra (Great Excitement). These are Sanskrit words. Sanskrit Vyaghra = Tiger. Sanskrit Vyagra = Great ExcitementI submit that the ED pill Viagra derived its name from the Sanskrit word Vyagra (Great Excitement). Vira is the person who engages in tantric sexual practices. Diva is the person who gave up worldly pursuits, desires and passions and became divine.  It appears that Vyaghra, Vyagra, Vira and Viagra belong to one category; Vairagya and Divya belong to the Yogi.  Viagra and Vairagya are polar opposites. Vairaghya = desirelessness. Viagra pill is prescribed for Erectile dysfunction; people use it for recreational sex to enhance performance.

These are the two opposing forces; the former enhances the desire and passion and is a facilitator and the latter brings freedom from all attachments. If you take the Vairagya pill every day you will not succumb to temptations of sex; if you take Viagra pill everyday, you facilitate sexual encounter. One has to make a choice. Ramakrishna Parmahamsa says one has to choose between Kamini-Kanchana (sexual passion and wealth) on one side and God on the other side. The former is a weak magnet and the latter a strong magnet. If you place an iron bar at equal distance between the two, the God magnet pulls the iron bar and weak magnet is powerless. It is Maya that prevents man from being pulled by the God magnet. Adapted from Sayings of Ramakrishna, saying 87, page 41.

Jijinaasaa: Desire of knowing; investigation.  Jihaasaa: desire of giving up. Vairagya is a balance between desire for knowledge and desire of giving up. Certain knowledge, such as knowledge of Brahman, is desirable and certain habits of the flesh are worth giving up in the interest of yogic perfection.

Vairagya is of two kinds: This is applicable to Yogis only: Para Vairagya and Apara Vairagya. The former is superior and latter (lower) shows shades of desire. Apara Vairagya shows traces of qualities (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) and applies to yogis who still cling to eight siddhis (powers); that is not Vairagya, but is actually desires couched in special powers, anima, mahima, videha.  Para Vairagin sheds the special siddhis, annihilates all desires, and receives vision of Brahman.

    We are all Vairagins (they, who gave up desire and attachment to objects and beings) during deep sleep. That is the mental state of the Yogi, though he is awake; there is no ego play; desires and dualities do not enlist his attention.

    Our life is a painting on the canvas of consciousness and intellect (buddhi) which trickled down to us from Pure Consciousness and Mahat; that is our substratum; anything that augments and highlights the background is liberating. If there are too many strokes and too many running colors depicting pain and pleasure, love and hate, like and dislike, objects and beings and other dualities, the painted picture (the images) is too crowded for any meaningful journey from Samsara to liberation. This busy painting depicts passion, motion, and darkness which only accumulate karma for the individual soul. Autumn colors mean fall; monochromatic color of sprigs means spring; fall and spring are death and rebirth--that is Samsara, an endless cycle on the tree of life. (The words and analogy are mine but the concept is from Panchadasi.)

4.11: O Partha, whoever takes whatever path to reach me, I reciprocate in like manner. Men follow all kinds of paths leading to Me.

4.12: In this world of men, they who desire the fruits of their work worship many gods, because the benefits from fruition of work come quickly.

        There are two kinds of devotees: Sakaama and Nishkaama or Akaama devotees or bhaktas. Sakama devotees seek fruits for their actions, while Akama devotees do not seek any fruits for their actions.  Those who engage is Sakama karma (Fruitive activities) attain heaven but return to earth again and again (Samsara or rebirth), while Akama karma followed by Brahma Vidya (Knowledge of Brahman) guarantees liberation or moksa.      

Nammalvar asks this question: If Narāyana is the Supreme God, why do people offer sacrifices and worship to the lesser gods? The reason, he gave is there are many gods listed in Rg-Veda and that these gods offer health, wealth, happiness and bliss to their devotees. Narāyana in the form of Brahma gave life to the gods and deities. The Lord, by the Supreme power vested in Him as their inner Soul or antarātma, gives them power to grant boons to their devotees. The problem is the gods have to check with Him first, before they give the boons to the devotees. The lesser gods do not have the authority to confer the ultimate boon: moksa or liberation from cycle of births and rebirths. Narāyana also has the Grace to erase all sins in one sweep, which other gods cannot do; and the Lord takes you lovingly into his exclusive abode, Vaikuntha. Nammalvar goes on to say the devotees should seek refuge in and surrender themselves to Narāyana for getting moksa, because he is the only One who could confer that moksa.

4.13: I founded (created) the fourfold order of Varna according to guna and karma (fundamental quality and work). Though I am the founder, know me thou as unable to act or change.

The fourfold order or division of a society according to Varnasrama dharma consists of Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. The intent of this division is to assign work according to one’s aptitude. The emphasis was on guna and karma; belonging to a particular Varna or caste is independent of birth or parentage, which is not one's choosing, and unchangeable. Guna (mode) and work are subject to change according to one's proclivity and karma. Varna connotes an external veil or screen; it is about the intrinsic worth of a person; and color is one of the irrelevant but intrusive aspects in this fourfold division, though the original intent was independent of claim by color and birth in a caste. Lord Krishna, the originator of the division, was Himself a product of mixed parentage, while his parents languished in a prison cell. He was dark-blue in color.

Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra are the priest, the king, the trader, and the worker respectively.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, Narada in answer to a question by Yudhisthira on the eternal Dharma of man in relation to Varna says the following (7.11.35). Translation by Prabhupada and ThAkura.


yasya yal-laksanam proktam pumso varnabhivyanjakam

yad anyatrapi drsyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiset


(35) And if with a person the symptoms indicating a certain class other than his own are observed, should one for sure also designate him by that [: who behaves like a brahmin e.g. must be considered so]. translation by Prabhupada.

(35) A person should be considered to belong to the varna whose characteristics he possesses, even if he has appeared in a different caste.--Translation by ThAkura.

A person with symptoms of a Varna belongs to that Varna. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duct, it must be a duck.

The same rule applies to Sannyasa. Conventionally a Brahmana is the right candidate for Sannyasa.

The practice of offering sannyasa to men who, although born of other castes, possess the symptoms of brahmanas, is occurring on the basis of this verdict of the sastras. If a man born of a different caste truly possesses the symptoms of a brahmana and is given sannyasa, then it must be avowed that this system is approved by sastra. By ThAkura in Jaiva Dharma, Page 172

For more information on this subject, go to Bhagavad Gita 9.32 verse and commentary.

4.14: These works never bind me, for I have no desire for their fruits. He, who knows me as Truth, is never bound by actions. (Actions do not bind the one who knows the Lord as Truth)

Work neither contaminates nor binds Bhagavan. Bhagavan does not make men and gods directly; Karma makes men and gods and the difference between them. Their life experiences in the embodied state are in accordance with their karmas generated by attachment to the fruits of their actions. Bhagavan does not dispense favor or disfavor to any one; the inequality among beings is due to karma. Bhagavan is the Operative Cause (like the manager in the industrial plant). The manager is different from the nuts and bolts that the plant produces under his management. The metal is the material cause. The nuts and bolts come from metal exhibiting its intrinsic property, which has nothing to do with the manager. The same metal or matter becomes a nut in one instance and bolt in another instance. The furnace, the lathes... are the adventitious cause. The Material Cause generates the body, the mind and the limbs. The state (nut or bolt), a metal is lead into, comes from its own potentiality. The state, a man is led into, comes from his own potentiality. The Supreme person is the Instrumental or Operative Cause.

It is like the inner potential of the rice seed. The material cause (the germ) for its sprouting is in the seed itself. It growth needs season and soil-adventitious causes . Water or rain is the instrumental agent for its growth. -Vishnu Purana 1.4.51-52.


न मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा ।

इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न स बध्यते ॥४-१४॥

na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti na me karmaphale sp
iti māṁ yobhijānāti karmabhir na sa badhyate 4.14

na1 mām2 karmāṇi3 limpanti4 na5 me6 karma-phale7 sp8
10 ya11 abhijānāti12 karmabhi13 na14 sa15 badhyate16   4.14


 karmāṇi3 = Actions; na1= do not; limpanti4 = taint, stain; mām2 = Me; na5 = nor; me6 = for Me; [there is] sp8 = any desire; karma-phale7 = for actions that bear fruits. sa15 = He; ya11 = who; abhijānāti12 = knows;  m10 = Me;  iti9 = thus; na14 = does not;  badhyate16 = become bound; karmabhi13 = by actions. 4.14

4.14: These works never bind me, for I have no desire for their fruits. He, who knows Me as Truth, is never bound by actions. (Actions do not bind the one who knows the Lord as Truth.)


  Sri U. Ve Velukkudi Krishnan Swamy  (SUVVKS)

Bhagavan's karmani (कर्माणि = Actions) is creation, absorption and protection. There exists differences in creation between atma to atma. There are four varnas in creation. All these do not affect Bhagavan. By realising this truth, one must conclude that all these differences are due to my own karmas and I have been prescribed certain duties according to my varna and asrama, the performance of which would destroy my karmas and release me from samsara. (SUVVKS)

Varna (Caste) cannot be equated with Srivaishnava, an ardent devotee of Vishnu. Any caste can be a Srivaishnava.

1. A Srivaishnava is by living. A Srivaishnava has to necessarily do his prescribed rituals daily. Being good, chanting namams and going to temple are all attributes of a Srivaishnava but they would be wasted without the daily rituals. 2. He is certainly a srivaishnava.

Chanting Namams (names of the Vishnu) : Narayana namam and tirumandiram. All those pasurams which contain namams can be sung as nama sankirtanam. --(SUVVKS)

4.15: Knowing thus, the ancestors or the ancients, seeking liberation performed actions; you also perform the age-old customary work done by the ancients.

According to Varnāsrama dharma, Arjuna is a Ksatriya and therefore the Lord urges him to do what the ancient kings did: the dharma (duty) of a warrior. According to Dharma Sūtra, Ksatriya makes a living by protecting his subjects with weapons. According to Varnāsrama dharma, Ksatriya should excel in the art of war. He should be knowledgeable in sacred laws and religion; he should make sacrifices and make gifts. He dispenses justice and protects the weak and the vulnerable sections of his kingdom so the strong would not fry the weak like fish on spit. He must be a just inflictor or dispenser of punishment, considering the truth and exercising wisdom. He is the protector of varnāsrama dharma, so the society functions as one unit in a fourfold division of labor. He should fight his wars, face his enemies, protect the people, and honor the Brahmanas (the repository of Vedic wisdom). The sacred texts say that it is better that a king dies in the battle and goes to heaven, instead of turning his back to the enemies. He should amass, preserve, and spread wealth on worthy men. He can conquer his enemies by conciliation, by gifts, by marriage, by spreading dissension among enemy kings, and by offering peace; and if possible, he should avoid war. If the king wins the war, he has the right to bring home a Ksatriya, a Vaisya or even a Sudra bride, if he chooses to do so. Since the outcome of war is uncertain, the Laws of Manu recommends conciliation as the first step.

4.16: What is action? What is inaction? Thus, even the wise are confused in this matter. I will expound to you that action by knowing which you will be free from sin.

kim karma kim akarma iti kavayah api atra mohitaah|  tat te karma pravakñyaami yaj jnaatvaa moksyase asubhaat||

tat: that karma, the truth about karma; Asubha: misfortune, harm, mischief, sin, evil



4.17: One has to know or understand what action is, what wrong action is, and what inaction is. It is hard to understand karma’s course or path.

Karma: action

Gahana: deep, dense, thick, hard to understand.

The course or path of action (impenetrable or dense or inaccessible, Gahanā) defies understanding.

4.18: He, who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise among men. He is a yogi (wholesome performer), accomplished in all actions.

Karma is thought, word or deed, done by the mind, speech and physical body.  Karma has consequences, neutral, good, bad, ugly, dire… All acts are not Karma. All karma are not acts.  There is no life without Karma.

Karma = action;

Akarma = inaction, non-performance of auspicious acts; non-action

Vikarma = prohibited acts, prohibited non-action; many kinds of actions

Subha Karma = auspicious acts;

Asubha Karma = inauspicious acts;  

Nitya Subha Karma = obligatory auspicious daily rites;

Naimittika Subha Karma = occasional, periodic auspicious acts;

Kamya subha Karma = acts based on desire for personal benefit (it is not a desirable Karma, though listed in Subha Karma);  Kukarma = wicked deed, impious act;  

Ugra Karma = fierce or violent action. Hitler is the perfect example.  Ugra Karma starts wars.

Other terms

Action in inaction = Action in non-action

Inaction in action = non-action in action 

The following piece adheres to the guidelines of sacred texts.

Karma (action) by and large keeps a person in metempsychic cycle of births and rebirths.  It is a hodgepodge of acts of every conceivable nature; the results are good, bad, indifferent, calamitous… Non-action as opposed to action is not necessarily good for oneself or for others, either human, animate or inanimate. Every act is chronicled in the subtle soul of every individual.

There are many kinds of Karma: Subha Karma, A-subha karma, Vikarma (prohibited acts), and Akarma.  Subha Karma is auspicious act and earns Punyam (Merit); Asubha is inauspicious and earns Papam (sin); Vikarma is a forbidden act (such as murder, cheating, usurpation).  Akarma is not performing an auspicious act and earns sin, though there is merit in certain kinds of non-action (Akarma).  

Action becomes non-action without the attendant merit or sin, when the act is performed without expectation of fruits (voluntary service in a religious or secular setting); same is true when a person acts in the pursuit of acquiring the knowledge of the Self, God, Brahman, or Bhagavan. Examples are meditation, Yoga… Merit or sin keeps the person in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth; non-action in this context releases the person from metempsychosis.  

Action is performance of an act conditioned by desire for fruit; Inaction is an act NOT conditioned by desire for fruit, attachment, and modicum of mineness, but done for the express weal of others.  

Akarma (non-action or Inaction), not performing an action, could be sin in certain circumstances. A child runs across a busy thoroughfare; a capable adult knowingly ignores, watches the child hit by a car and remains without helping; that is inaction and sin.  Child neglect comes under this caption. Neglect of senior citizens is another non-action. In ethical and religious terms it is sin. 

A capable man watches a snake swallow a frog, remains passive and acts with no remorse. That is action in inaction or non-action, even though he did not act.  There is action though the man did not move or raise a stick to strike the snake. He used mental action and physical inaction and refrained from hitting the snake. To use Churchillian idiom, it is masterly inactivity. It is in the nature of things that a snake swallows a frog and one should not prevent such acts.  

What is Vikarma, Prohibited action? Desire and passion are two elements in Vikarma.  A swindler robs an old lady of her savings--that is Vikarma (prohibited action). Many prosecutable offences come under this category.  

Action in Inaction:  You have to tweak your philosophical sense to appreciate this concept. The oarsman in the moving boat sees the trees on the banks of the river moving. (The wise know that the trees are not moving.) If any one is moving, it is the oarsman and the trees are steady and stationary. Oarsman represents action and the tree stands for inaction. In like manner, the Great Self (Bhagavan, Lord, Allah, or Yahweh) in us is the stationary Witness and our body is ever in action.  The action of the body is superimposed on the actionless unchanging witnessing Self.  Action is the Oarsman; the Self in him is Inaction and a silent Witness. The Self is Spirit; the body and the world are matter.  We do certain things (action) for a fruit; we do not do certain things because there is no fruit in them; we are the everyday men of the world.  Doing and not doing an action because of fruit, is not the constitution of a Karma Yogi. Just think of the Karma Yogi, Mother Theresa; fruits were not her motive when she performed certain actions and refrained from other actions. She did it for the Great Soul. Since the Yogi does not expect fruit from his doing and not doing an act, his action is inaction. The actionless Self stands tall and steady and the Yogi does not expect action-inaction fruits when he is in the midst of action and non-action.

Inaction in Action: Inaction does not generate karmic inflows. A resident monk in a monastery or the Buddhist temple just eats to live for others. He is detached from the material world. He has no desire and no passion for material things and does nothing for himself. He desires no personal fruits for all his actions. He strives for others by meditation… Action not tainted by fruits is inaction. All his service and meditations, though deemed as actions, are inaction. All actions and fruits go to the world. This is the example of Inaction in Action. The monk does not claim the actions, objects and fruits as his and for him.  He (a wise man) is attached to the Self (God, Lord, Bhagavan, Allah, Yahweh) and detached from the world of desires, passion and objects.  

Subha Karma consists of Nitya Karma, Naimittika Karma and KAmya Karma.  Nitya Karma consists of acts which promote weal of body, mind, soul, family, dependents, community, nation, and the world, in addition to offering prayers, and chanting mantras (Sandhya Vandanam).  Naimittika (occasional, periodic) Karma consists of remembering and doing rites for the dear departed souls and atonement for sins. KAmya Karma consists of acts of self-interest and is discouraged. 

Read What Ramana Maharishi says on this subject. These are not his exact words.

Ramana Maharishi throws light on this issue: A person is not a performer (doer of any act), whether he acts or not, when his delusional ego (the I-ness) dies and disappears. Action is not necessarily a motor activity. A thought is an activity of the mind; if that thought is laden with ego, attachment, expectation of a reward, and emotional upheaval, that thought is action in a seeming inactivity. Inaction in action is the total cessation of activity of the individual self and its surrender to the ever active, but seemingly inactive, Self Paramatma, Isvara or Brahman: Dedication of your selfless (no motive or expectation of reward) action to the Lord is inactivity in action. If the action is without attachment, inflow into subtle body carries less karmic load. A null karma or karma with a zero sum or balance is the ideal karma. One should keep the light in the spiritual heart alight to dispel the darkness. Yogi’s actions are karma-free. They are "abstention, observance, postures, breath-control, withdrawal of senses, fixed attention or concentration, contemplation or meditation, and superconsciousness or samādhi.” A yogi is like a lamp with a flickerless flame in a stormy night, when his subdued thoughts and self seek to merge with Self. Inaction in action in a yogi means the thoughts and the self are at rest; the action in inaction in a yogi means self and the thoughts (are absorbed) merge into the Self. Coming back to inactivity, a humor gives an insight into activity and inactivity: If inactivity in a yogi were no activity then walls and trees would be great sages and yogis. Activity is the recommended goal of Vedanta; provided the mind is calm, there is no greater good than work; and less is the passion, better is the work. Passion dissipates the quality of work; and calm during the storm gives a form to the work, and gets the work done. It may be difficult to give up passion, selfishness, and desire. How one reconciles them with the Vedantic ideal and his achievement matters. Once this reconciliation takes place, the positive qualities grow as the negative ones drop off. Then his achievement is closer to the Vedantic ideal, mentioned by Lord Krishna.

For the yogi, sattvic (virtuous) action comes from his inner being without any effort and is SELF-directed, the "SELF" being the inner divine Being. He (yogi) is neither the actor nor the agent of an action, but a mere instrument of the divine Being. When the yogi of such an accomplishment is performing his actions, he is responsible neither for his actions, nor for the karmic inflows into the subtle body, and is not subject to karmic laws. Since the actions come under the aegis of divine guidance and driving force, the yogi's actions are inactions: the import is they are not subject to karma.

4.19: He, who abandons the will of desire in his undertaking and whose karma comes to destruction in the fire of perfect knowledge or wisdom, is called panditah by the wise.

He, who abandons the will of desire in his undertaking and destroys karma with the fire of perfect knowledge, is a panditah according to the wise.

The wise call him a panditah, when he abandons the will of desire in his undertaking and when the fire of perfect knowledge destroys his karma.

Samārambha: undertaking, enterprise. Samkalpa: will, mental resolve. Varjita: abandon, avoid, exclude. Punditah: learned man, sage (pundit)

Kāma-Samkalpa-varjita: Desire-will-abandon, abandon the will of desire.

As Vivekananda, Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, knowing that you are the self and not the body is Jnāna. Progressively all dualities disappear, Sattva and dharma prevail, and the yogi transcends all modes and becomes one with One: He arrives at Vijnāna. A jnāna yogi says that one should give up this world, but not abandon it. A jnāna yogi has his body, mind, senses, and wants under perfect control and knows that behind him, there is only one Real. He gave up all desires and his goal is freedom. For him, there is only Atman from which he gets knowledge and enlightenment; he strives for light, vision, and Bliss of the Self. The more purified he becomes, the more flashes of light he sees in his soul. Upanishads say it succinctly: "That" which exists is "One" and the sages call "It" by many names. The yogi surrenders the apparent man in him for the sake of the Real. He knows that Atman is the supreme knowledge, the witness, and the knower; in this universe, there is nothing new to Atman in the present or in the future. He is the superconscious being in tune with Atman, which he sees in man, animals, sinners, and sages, all of whom he regards equally. Body is only a way station for the Atman and he knows that his last station is Brahman; you are what you think and meditating on Brahman facilitates absorption into Brahman. Thou art That. Yogi sees and goes beyond the limits of reason and senses and arrives at Bliss.

Knowledge is of two kinds: Para Vidya and Apara Vidya. Knowledge of the Absolute that brings about immediate liberation or moksa is Para Vidya. Apara Vidya consists of four Vedas and their six Angas, which do not elaborate on the nature of Atman. Apara Vidya is also known as intellectual (material) knowledge (Faustian knowledge) as opposed to spiritual knowledge, and therefore belongs to a lower category of knowledge. All worldly knowledge in the realms of arts and sciences belong to this category, also known as Laukika Vidya. Laukika = worldly, not sacred; Vidya = knowledge.  If one possesses Para Vidya, he has Vijnana and has direct knowledge of Brahman. It is the same as Para Brahman. Vedas and Upanishads belong to the category of Saguna Brahman, Sound Brahman (Sabda Brahman), and Apara Vidya (inferior knowledge as opposed to supreme knowledge of direct experience of Brahman). Verbal knowledge of Sastras as opposed to the spiritual does not destroy the dualities like happiness and sorrow which originate from senses. The painted picture of light in dark room cannot dissipate darkness; likewise, verbal knowledge cannot dissipate ignorance and obtain freedom from Samsara. Didactic study of scriptures by the unenlightened (Prajnahina) is seeing of a blind man. Direct knowledge with Sadhana is the ultimate knowledge and all else is limited knowledge of the matter.

The opposite of Vidya is Avidya, ignorance or nescience. Avidya is not intellectual but spiritual ignorance. All knowledge we gain from the senses is non-knowledge and avidya.

Vid = knowledge of truth. The words ‘Wit and Wisdom’ are derived from Vid. The term Veda is also derived from Vid.

Tantra states that all Laukika knowledge is lifeless and wooden, when compared to life-inspiring Mantra taught by a Guru. All knowledge is wooden except the sacred knowledge that gives liberation.

4.20: Having given up desire and attachment to fruit of action, always contented, and not dependent, and though engaged in action, he does nothing ever at all.

The all-consuming desire of a man without contentment grows like a creeper. The man of desire goes from one life to another, as a bird jumps from one tree to another in search of fruits. The attachment to the fruit should drop off like water from the lotus leaf floating in the water. Such a man engaged in action does no action at all, which means the work and the consequent karma do not stick to him and thus help attainment of liberation.

4.21: With no desire, and controlled body, mind and senses, giving up sense of ownership and allowing only bodily functions, he does not incur any guilt or sin.

A person, who says that this belongs to him and that belongs to him, does not belong to himself: He lost his own ownership, because the objects he desires own him. If he loses himself or his own ownership, how could it be possible that he owns something else? A man, who thinks he is a fool but knows this, is wise and a man who thinks he is wise but does not know this is a fool indeed. For a man who does his dharma, allowing only the bodily functions, there is no bondage and therefore no sin. 

4.22: Satisfied and happy with gains that come on their own accord without any desire for them, transcending (rising above) duality (pleasure and pain), free from envy, and balanced in success and failure, he is not bound even when he acts.

4.23: For the one whose attachments are torn asunder, who is liberated and remains steady in wisdom, and whose work is a sacrifice, his works or actions are dissolved or destroyed.

"The intellectual apprehension of eternal things belongs to wisdom", said St. Augustine, fifth century C.E. It appears that St. Augustine peaked into the minds of yogis.

4.24: The act of offering is Brahman; the oblation is Brahman; and the fire, in which butter (havih) is poured, is Brahman. The yogi, absorbed in Brahman karma, has Brahman as the object of attainment.

Havih: Butter, grain, milk, soma offered as an oblation with fire or burned offering.

Brahman:  "The word Brahman denotes the highest person (Puruottama), who is essentially free from all imperfections and possesses innumerable auspicious qualities of unsurpassable excellence." The term "Brahman" is derived from Brith = big or great, and so means that which possesses greatness of essential nature as well as of qualities, is of unlimited fullness and as such is the Lord of all." (S. Bh. I. 1. 1)  Ramanujacharya Page 72, Ramanuja's Teachings in His Own Words.

Oblation or offerings made in the fire is more than a ritual. It has a whole lot of meaning. Butter is offered in oblation. Offering is an expression of sacrifice of self and acknowledgement that all acts and material are His. Further, the materials offered in the fire (Agni = fire = Vishnu; Vishnu is the inner controller of Fire; therefore fire is Vishnu.) seek protection from Bhagavan and are an euphemism for the soul of the individual. Brahma, Fire, gods, beings, individual souls have Vishnu as their Supreme Soul and inner Controller and Master. All souls belong to Him, need his protection and eventually find their way back to Him. The reason why the individual soul needs protection is because the soul gets contaminated by sins of thought, speech and deed on a 24 hour basis. If the soul is contaminated by sins, it cannot attain salvation. The fire symbolically burns all the sins, makes the soul pure and prepares it to merge with Bhagavan.

4.25: Some yogis offer sacrifices in the form of worship to the demigods, while others offer sacrifice by performing sacrifice in the fire that is Brahman Himself.

Of all devatas (gods), Agni (Fire-god) is the visible one in everyday life. He is Prohitan and takes us forward and upward to a higher status than we enjoy now. Prohitan = Pro + Hita = forward and upward + benefit. He is an intermediary between God and man. Agni is Vishnu who is Brahman. Vishnu or Brahman is the Inner Guide and Inner Supersoul (Antaryamin and Antaratman) of Agni. Therefore offering oblations and worship to Agni is offering them to Brahman-Vishnu. Though you may offer worship to other lesser gods, eventually all offerings go to Vishnu-Brahman because He is Antaryamin and Antaratman of all lesser deities (devatas).                     

    Greek mythology tells stories of gods afraid of the first men who were so strong that they could go to heaven and engage gods in fight. What they particularly worried was that if they defeated men with thunderbolts, they would be deprived of sacrifices, which offered sustenance to gods. Hindus entertain the same idea about gods receiving sustenance from the sacrifices offered to gods on earth. Fire and burnt offering are essential elements of the sacrifice in which fire-god carries the sacrifice to the gods. what god receives by sacrifice is returned in kind to man.

4.26: While others offer their hearing and senses to the fires of restraint or self-control, some others offer sound and other objects of senses to the fires of the senses.

Offering hearing and senses to the fires of restraint means the organs of senses do not come into contact with the objects of senses (sound, vision, touch, taste, and hearing). If a chance encounter happens, there is no attachment or aversion and he is the same.

4.27: Others offer the functions of their senses and the breath (prāna) into the fire of yoga of self-restraint, illuminated by wisdom.

Ātma samyama yoga: Yoga of self-restraint. Jnānadīpite: illuminated by wisdom.

Mahat and buddhi are the cosmic and individual aspects of intellect. Buddhi is the central processing unit for ahankāra and all the sixteen entities. Five karmendriyas (motor organs), manas (mind), five janāndriyas (sensory organs), and five tanmatras (sound, touch, color, flavor, smell) take their origin from the ego under the modulating influence of buddhi. When the functions of these senses and the vital breath serve as sacrifice into the fire of yoga of self-restraint under the influence of wisdom, these energies sublimate or transform into a state, in which Atman and buddhi are in unison. Buddhi is not only a modulator, but also a filter for the gunas: It tries to filter out the Rajas and Tamas gunas and projects the sattvic quality in a sattvic person; in a Rajasic or Tamasic person, the buddhi is unable to filter out gunas and they respectively display Rajasic and Tamasic qualities.

4.28: Some offer sacrifices in the form of material possessions, austerities, and (eightfold) yogic practices; others offer Vedic studies as sacrifice; and the ascetics offer the knowledge of the self as sacrifice

Dravya-yajnah: sacrifice-- material, charity.

Tapo-yajnāh: sacrifice-- austerity, tolerance of severe difficulty.

Yoga-yajnāh: Sacrifice-- yoga, yoga means equanimity under all conditions.

Svādhyāya: Sacrifice-- Vedic learning, study of scriptures.

Jnāna-yajnah: Sacrifice--knowledge, knowledge of the self.

4.29. Others offer out-breath into in-breath and in-breath into out-breath. Still others stop the movements of Out-breath and In-breath and practice breath-control. 4.30: Others sacrifice by limiting their food intake and Prana into Prana itself. They, knowing all these, destroy their sins by sacrifices.

4.29-30: Others offer apāne (incoming air) into Prāna (outgoing air) and prāna into apāne. Still others, having breath control (Prānāyāma) and restricting food intake, pour prāna into prāna itself as a sacrifice. These, knowing the (value or truth of) sacrifices, have their sins destroyed by such sacrifices.



 Prana, Apana, Vayana, Samana and Udana as defined by Dr. Radhakrishnan. The Principal Upanisads page 176.

Prāṇa is the general term for breath, in or out.

Apāna is the downward breath, Vyāna is the bond of union of the two. It is the breath which sustains life when there is neither expiration nor inspiration. Samāna is common to both expiration and inspiration. Udāna leads the soul in deep sleep to the central Reality or conducts the soul from the body on death.  October 01, 2013.



   This is an excerpt from Talks with Ramana Maha Rishi on Pranayama.

Talk 371.


There was a group of three middle-aged Andhras on a visit to Sri Bhagavan. One of them kneeled and asked: I am performing  hathayoga, namely basti, dhauti, neti, etc. I find a blood vessel hardened in the ankle. Is it a result of Yoga?

M: The blood-vessel would have hardened under any circumstances. It does not trouble you as much now as it would otherwise. Hathayoga is a cleaning process. It also helps peace of mind, after leading you to pranayama.

D.: May I do pranayama? Is it useful?

M: Pranayama is an aid for the control of mind. Only you should not stop with pranayama. You must proceed further to pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Full results are reaped finally.

Another of the group asked: How are lust, anger, acquisitiveness, confusion, pride and jealousy overcome?

M: By dhyana.

D.: What is dhyana?

M: Dhyana is holding on to a single thought and putting off all other thoughts.

D.: What is to be meditated upon?

M: Anything that you prefer.

D.: Siva, Vishnu, and Gayatri are said to be equally efficacious. Which should I meditate upon?

M: Anyone you like best. They are all equal in their effect. But You should stick to one.

D.: How to meditate?

M: Concentrate on that one whom you like best. If a single thought prevails, all other thoughts are put off and finally eradicated. So long diversity prevails there are bad thoughts. When the object of love prevails only good thoughts hold the field. Therefore hold on to one thought only. Dhyana is the chief practice.



A little later Sri Bhagavan continued:

Dhyana means fight. As soon as you begin meditation other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to sink the single thought to which you try to hold. The good thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. After it has grown strong the other thoughts will be put to flight. This is the battle royal always taking place in meditation. One wants to rid oneself of misery. It requires peace of mind, which means absence of perturbation owing to all kinds of thoughts. Peace of mind is brought about by dhyana alone.

D.: What is the need then for pranayama?

M: Pranayama is meant for one who cannot directly control the thoughts. It serves as a brake to a car. But one should not stop with it, as I said before, but must proceed to pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. After the fruition of dhyana, the mind will come under control even in the absence of pranayama. The asanas (postures) help pranayama, which helps dhyana in its turn, and peace of mind results. Here is the purpose of hatha yoga.

Later Sri Bhagavan continued:  When dhyana is well established it cannot be given up. It will go

on automatically even when you are engaged in work, play or enjoyment. It will persist in sleep too. Dhyana must become so deep-rooted that it will be natural to one.

D.: What rite or action is necessary for the development of dhyana?

M: Dhyana is itself the action, the rite and the effort. It is the most intense and potent of all. No other effort is necessary.

D.: Is not japa necessary?  

M: Is dhyana not vak (speech)? Why is japa necessary for it? If dhyana is gained there is no need for anything else.

D.: Is not a vow of silence helpful?

M: A vow is only a vow. It may help dhyana to some extent. But what is the good of keeping the mouth closed and letting the mind run riot. If the mind be engaged in dhyana, where is the need for speech?

Nothing is as good as dhyana. Should one take to action with a vow of silence, where is the good of the vow?

D.: What is jnana-marga?

M: I have been saying it for so long. What is jnana? Jnana means realization of the Truth. It is done by dhyana. Dhyana helps you to hold on to Truth to the exclusion of all thoughts.

D.: Why are there so many Gods mentioned?

M: The body is only one. Still, how many functions are performed by it? The source of all the functions is only one. It is in the same way with the Gods also.

D.: Why does a man suffer misery?

M: Misery is due to multifarious thoughts. If the thoughts are unified and centered on a single item there is no misery, but happiness is the result. Then, even the thought, "I do something" is absent; nor will there be an eye on the fruit of action.


Talk 372.

D.: Horripilation, sobbing voice, joyful tears, etc., are mentioned in Alma Vidya Vilasa and other works. Are these found in samadhi, or before, or after?

M: All these are the symptoms of exceedingly subtle modes of mind (vrittis). Without duality they cannot remain. Samadhi is Perfect Peace where these cannot find place. After emerging from samadhi the remembrance of the state gives rise to these symptoms. In bhakti marga (path of devotion) these are the precursors to samadhi.

D.: Are they not so in the path of jnana?

M: May be. There is no definiteness about it. It depends on the nature of the individual. Individuality entirely lost, these cannot find a place. Even the slightest trace of it being present, these symptoms become manifest.

Manickavachagar and other saints have spoken of these symptoms.

They say tears rush forth involuntarily and irrepressibly. Though aware of tears they are unable to repress them. I had the same experience when I was staying Virupaksha cave.

D.: Sleep state is said to be the experience of Bliss, yet, on recollecting it the hairs do not stand on end. Why should they do so, if the samadhi state is recollected?

M: Samadhi means sleep in waking state (jagrat sushupti). Bliss is overpowering and the experience is very clear, whereas it is different in sleep.

D.: Can we put it that in sleep there is no unhappiness, nor happiness, i. e., the experience is negative not positive.

M: But the recollection is positive "I slept happily," says the man.

So there must be the experience of happiness in sleep.

D.: Does Bliss consist only in the absence of unhappiness, or is it anything positive?

M: It is positive. Loss of unhappiness and rise of happiness are simultaneous.

D.: Can it be that the recollection of happiness in sleep is not clear and so there is no horripilation, etc.?

M: The Bliss of samadhi is a perfectly clear experience and its recollection also is similar. But the experience of sleep is otherwise.


Talk 27: Pranayama is a natural sedative. If life is imperiled the interest centers around the one point, the saving of life. If the breath is held the mind cannot afford to (does not) jump at its pets -- external objects. Thus there is rest for the mind so long as the breath is held. All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost. Again, passions are attended with regular breathing, whereas calm and happiness are attended with slow and regular breathing. intense joy is as painful as pain and both are accompanied by ruffled breaths.



Prana is life and life is breath. Prana is a gift of Atma to the physical body. The Saiva Siddhantists consider Prana as Sakti of Atma. Prana is subtle in its transcendent state, becomes immanent and manifest in an individual, and finds expression according to its target organ. It is like electricity which finds expression as movement in a fan, light in a florescent lamp, or heat in an electric stove. Prana is movement of air in the lungs, fire of digestion in the stomach and intestines, rhythmic contraction and relaxation in the heart, electrical impulses and thought in the brain and much more. Prana is Rta (the Egyptian Maat), the Cosmic law on a grand scale. 


Prāna is not mere breath; it is more. First, we should not consider prāna only as physiological respiration, exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. It is life, it is movement, it is being, it is nourishing, it is the primal force, and it is energy. Prāna energizes transformation of Ākāsa from an element to a substance in this world of evolution. Prāna encompasses all energies discovered and yet undiscovered: it is thought, it is motion, it is gravity, it is lightning, it is energy in the atom, it is the motion in the atoms, and it is the essence in everything. Any discovered or undiscovered energy in our body or universe is prāna; call it by any name―respiration, nerve conduction, thought, gravity, magnetism. This prāna energy is as primal as Tapas, OM, light and water, which were present at creation or projection of Prakriti. Akāsa is the primal stem substance and Prāna is the primal stem force. All forces originate from prāna and all forces subside in prāna.  Udana is the grandfather, Viyana is the father and Apana is the grandson of Udana.  (up breath, equal breath, down breath.)

VAyu Purana (Chapter 35) says VAyu (Air Element) enters the fetus and becomes part of the soul of the fetus. It is because of VAyu that the fetus develops. ApAna  remains in the lower part of the body; UdAna circulates in the upper part of the body; VyAna pervades the whole body; SamAna abides in the joints.


Prāna has fivefold actions: (Prana can be air or energy according to its context.)

(1)   Prana: The commonly known prāna is the air moving through the mouth and the nostrils into and out of the lungs (exchange of gases). The heart is headquarters for Prana

(2)   Samāna Prāna: Equalizing breath. The energy ignites the bodily fire and resides in the digestive system, the heart, and the circulatory system, the umbilicus and the joints.  Here prana is digestive function of the stomach and intestines, rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle, the flow of blood through circulatory system and the movements of the joints. Its headquarters is the Navel (its domain is abdomen).. Remember Manipura Chakra's headquarters is in the umbilicus.

(3)   Apāna Prāna: Downward breathing. It pulls against Prana. It resides in the throat, the back of the thoracic cage, intestinal canal, generative organs, and the legs. Apana remains in and modulates the excretory and generative organs. Apana's headquarters is anus --Muladhara Chakra of Kundalini. (Simply put, Apana is the air that passes as flatus, which consists of 64% Nitrogen, 19% Hydrogen, 14% carbon dioxide, 9% Methane, 1% oxygen, and some foul-smelling sulphides. The proportion of these gases is variable; hydrogen, methane, oxygen may be infinitesimal. There are some people who produce excessive amount of Methane or Hydrogen, both of which are flammable gases. It has been reported that the Methane and Hydrogen producers can produce flame in the operating room, when electrocautery is used during abdominal surgery.)

 (4)   Udāna Prāna: Ascending breath. This energy is resident in the heart, throat, palate, and skull and between the eyebrows.  Udana's headquarters is the throat--Visuddha Chakra of Kundalini.  Udāna is the breath in the throat rising upwards. It is the expired air and the air used in speech.

(5)   Vyāna Prāna: Pervading breath or diffused breath. It is the vital air that circulates throughout the body or is diffused through the body. It is the oxygen that is carried by the blood through out the body. It is the son of Udana and the father of Apana Prana. It prevents body from disintegration and hold the body together.



This energy is resident everywhere, but concentrated in the circulatory system and sweat glands (sweating), and plays a role in the redistribution of biological fluids in the body. Vyana's headquarters is the whole body

        You may notice a correlation here between the centers or Chakras of Kundalini and the Pranas. Apana, Samana, Udana,  Prana, and Vyana represent body consciousness and not the Higher Consciousness present in Sahasrara Chakra. Above the Higher Consciousness is Pure Consciousness. The ascending breath residing at Visuddha chakra stops short of Ajna Chakra, the transitional zone between  body consciousness and Higher Consciousness, which is a dilute version of Pure Consciousness.      

NAga, KUrma, Krkara, Devadatta, Dhanamjaya form the pentad of minor Vayus manifesting in hiccup, blinking of eyes, digestion (appetite-maker), yawning and the prana of the corpse (that prana that does not leave the corpse). Woodroffe opines in modern terms that Prana is Appropriation, Apana is evacuation, Samana is Assimilation, Vyana is Distribution, and Udana is Utterance. Atma is the hypostasis and origin of Prana.

Kashmir Saivism says that the pentad is a group of Saktis and not Vital Airs. UdAna's location is the throat and its function is concerned with the transfer of a dying person's subtle body to the next corporeal body in the next birth. Anatomical location of PrAna is from heart to nose and it controls 'upper organs' concerned with breathing and digestion. SamAna's anatomical location is from navel to heart and its physiologic function is to distribute digested nutrients to sense-organs  and Nadis. ApAna's location is from navel to feet and its functions are contraction of bladder and evacuation of bowels. It is down breath. VyAna's location is all over the body; its functions are blood circulation and activation of Nadis. Pranas are Saktis and not vital airs according to Ksemaraja as opposed to Patanjali Sastras which regard them as VAyus or Vital Airs. But the functional classification is common to both. VyAna is multidirectional; UdAna goes up; ApAna goes down; SamAna is equalizing; PrAna is normal breathing. Saktis of PrAna, ApAna and SamAna keep the soul in bondage--the state of Pasu with Malas or impurities. The Saktis of UdAna and VyAna are liberating in that the soul merges with and becomes Pati.

ApAna according to Ksemaraja, is inspiration and PrAna is expiration. When the Yogi immerses himself in Samadhi (Complete mental absorption in I-Consciousness of Siva), PrAna and ApAna come to a standstill. When he emerges out of Samadhi, he regains Prana and Apana and realizes his desired objects fulfilled by his union with Siva. By this union the Yogi gains supernormal powers.

Binding and Liberating Saktis of Kashmir Saivism

The binding Saktis known as Aisvarya Sakti bind the individual soul by PrAna, ApAna and SamAna by putting the individual soul in the states of wakefulness, dream sleep and deep sleep with the help of organs, PrAna and Puryastaka (subtle body made of 5 Tanmatras, Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara); this bondage makes the individual soul a Samsarin or world dweller. When UdAna Sakti is active and courses through Susumna Nadi, it is Turiya; when Vyana Sakti is active pervading the body and Nadis, the aspirant attains the state of Turiyatita, which is Jivan Mukti or corporeal liberation while alive on earth. It is attaining Sivahood or becoming Pati.

Kashmir Saivism says that Samsarin is a result of contraction of Consciousness of Siva and a product of delusion by one's own Saktis as depicted above. Agamas declare that the Supreme Lord Siva moves around incognito as embodied individual souls (We the people, the Mini-micro Sivas), when the Saktis enter the human body.


        Purusa is the command and control center for all these energies. Many of these functions and energies appear autonomous and some are under voluntary control.   

       There are five more Vayus or pranas of minor importance: Naga, Kurma, Krkara, Devadatta and Dhananjaya for hiccup, blinking of the eyes, appetite, yawning, and the prana of the dead. The last one implies that there is a resident prana even in a dead body.  These airs and energies originate from the heart with the Parmatma abiding in it.

Bhagavad-Gita:15.15:   I am seated in the hearts of all living beings. From Me come the memory, the knowledge, and the removal. I am also the knowable from the Vedas. I am the author of the Vedas and the knower of Vedas.

Dhanajaya is the air (oxygen and energy) used for nourishment of the body and appears to be the internal respiration of the cells: the oxygen moving into the cells from the capillaries.

Devadatta is the air (energy) that makes a person yawn which is an arousal mechanism for hypoxia. Yawning from boredom and inattention breaks the sleepiness and promotes attention by infusing the body with more oxygen.

Kurma is the air (energy) that stimulates peristaltic movements of the stomach and the nerve energy that moves the limbs.

    Krkara is the air that increases one's appetite.

    Naga is the air (energy) that facilitates opening of the eyes and mouth.

These Pranas are physiological events such as Appropriation and Utilization (Prana), Excretion (Apana), Assimilation (Samana), Distribution and Sustenance (Vyana), and Utterance and death (Udana) -- modified from Woodroffe.    

Chāndogya Upanishad Chapter 3 Section 13

Breath means energy flow in this instance: Control of the senses and the energy flow are the message here. In the following description of the heart, it is not the anatomical heart with gates, but the spiritual heart. Brahman is One, but manifests as five Brahman-persons, the doorkeepers of the fives gates of heaven in this instance, and resides in the heart with five openings or gates:

1. The eastern gate in the heart is Prāna the up breath, and the eye is the doorkeeper with the presiding deity, the sun.  

2. The southern gate is Vyāna, the diffuse breath (diffused throughout the body), and the doorkeeper is the ear with the presiding deity, the moon.

3. The western gate is Apāna, the down breath (Ventris Crepitus), and the doorkeeper is the speech with the presiding deity, Agni (fire).

4. The northern gate is Samāna, equalized breath, and the doorkeeper is the mind with the presiding deity rain.

5. The upper gate is Udāna, the out breath and doorkeeper is air with the presiding deity ether.   


If one controls the doorkeepers namely the eye, the ear, the speech, the mind, and the breath by meditation, access to Brahman in the spiritual heart is easy. According to Sankara, Brahman residing in the heart is a mediator in meditation, as image of the deity in the temple is a mediator. This is how idolatry gained acceptance in Hindu religion.


Prana, that dwells in the heart (Anahata Chakra) draws Apana dwelling in Muladhara Chakra: the up breath pulling the down breath, both being anchored to the body. When the breaths are in unison and ascend Susumna Nadi to Sahasrara  perfection in Pranayama is the result. Please note that the up breath and the down breath do not ascend the Susumna Nadi, but the energy created by the opposing forces passes up the Nadi.


Pranayama:  Mular makes the following statements on pranayama.

Prana is compared to a steed which would carry a master and throws down a novice. The destination is Samadhi; for that to happen the mind has to have control over the senses. It is important to gain control of two steeds, which are the Ida and Pingala breaths of the left and right nostrils. They can be mastered with the grace of the Gurus.  The steeds of Prana move faster than a bird. If Pranayama is mastered, the exhilaration is greater than that from imbibing toddy.  It gives jauntiness to gait and whips laziness.  Once Pranayama becomes the second nature of the mind, both become tranquil and there is no more birth and death. Master the technique of controlling the flow of left and right breaths and the nectar of life is yours.   

Pranayama consists of three parts: Pūrakam, Kumpakam, and (I) Resakam: Inhalation, retention, and exhalation. These are timed units. Inhalation lasts for 16 mātras (6.4 seconds), retention for 64 mātras (25.6S), and exhalation for 32 mātras (12.8S).  Mātra = mā (to measure) + tra = feminine unit of measurement.  If you think mother and mātr sound similar, you are right and they mean the most precious person in your life.

Matra: unit of time: Māt-tirai (Mātra): measure of time = 2/5th of a second = the time it takes to snap one’s fingers, wink one’s eyes, or say OM. Easy way of remembering these time measurements is to say mentally ‘one in one thousand,’ which equals to one second.  Expiration is twice longer than inspiration and retention is four times longer.  Inspiration-retention-expiration Ratio: 1-4-2. .

If you master Pranayama, the ripe old body will become young and hardy; with the grace of Guru, you will become lighter than air.  You can practice Pranayama anywhere any place and your body will not perish and you can defy Death. In Pūrvakam, inhale breath which pervades up and down and in the middle; in Kumpakam retain the breath around your navel; in Resakam the breath is absorbed (as you let out the expired air). The practitioners realize Siva himself.  Inhale by left nostril, retain it in the pit of the navel, exhale it by right nostril and you have seen the Truth. As you breathe in deep and steady, the prana suffuses ten Nadis; retain the breath and follow it up with slow exhalation.  Sit straight and win over Death. Pranayama purifies the body, turns the limbs ruddy, and hair dark; God never wants to leave your body. Practice Pranayama with 12 mātras of inhalation, four mātras of retention and eight mātras of exhalation. It will get you close to Siva.  Learn to control your ego and the jiva will never know night or day (will attain eternity). This advice is couched in an allegory. The elephant (ego) with 12 mantra breaths is awake night and day (Samsara); when the mahout (Jiva) controls the elephant (ego), the Jiva knows no night or day (will gain mukti or liberation). There is also a story behind the elephant and Siva.  Siva was in meditation; mimamasa Rishis and students wanted to destroy Siva. They sent a tiger, which he skinned with the nail of his little finger; later they sent an elephant which he skinned; then they sent a dwarf by name Apasmara Purusa known for forgetfulness, whom Siva subdues with his foot.  That is the famous stance of Lord Nataraja with his left foot standing on the demon. (Comment: Praanayaama = Praana + Aayaama = breath +lengthening. First Prana passes through Ida and Pingala and later it is coursed through the Susumna Nadi after it overcomes the gated entry at Brahma Dvara presided over by Kundalini who blocks the opening. Ida and Pingala come to rest. Prana in Susumna "pierces" the six chakras with the help of Kundalini. Piercing means overcoming the obstruction at each chakra with the help of Kundalini and prana reaches Sahasrara and becomes Laya. Laya means dissolution or disappearance, losing differentiation and becoming quiescent, which is the normal state. All states below that are material. If Laya and Lysis sound the same it is so in meaning too. From that state of quiescence, the entity can go into another Laya Center of homogeneity.  The purpose of Laya is for the Jiva to become one with Siva. End of comment.)

4.31: As a benefit of such sacrifice, they enjoy the remnants of the nectar of the sacrifice and attain to the Supreme Brahman. This world is not for the one, who does not perform any sacrifice. How is it possible that he could even think of the other world (heaven), O Kurusuttama, the best of the Kurus?

Chāndogya Upanishad Chapter four and five: Performers of sacrifice group according to the received benefits of the sacrifices. There are three paths: pitr-yāna (father's path), deva-yana (god's path), and yama-loka (the world of god of death).

Sanskrit Yama, Tamil Yaman, Persian Yima, Nordic Ymir, Babylonian Mu-u-tu, Hebrew Mawet, Canaanite god Yam, Roman Orcus, Greek Pluto, or Hades are one and the same god or entity.

Pitr-yāna. Those who followed the prescribed sacrificial rites come back to earth. The virtuous returns as a Brahmana, a Ksatriya, or a Vaisya according to his karmic merit; the evil one returns as a dog, a hog, or a chandāla (mixed-caste). The lowest and the ignorant (Tamasic people) are born as rice, barley, herbs, plants, and trees. The release from the plant category is according to who sows the seeds and who eats them.

Deva-yāna: These enlightened souls take the path of gods and go to the God and never return or reborn. They enjoy eternal bliss.

Yama-loka: The evil ones go straight to hell and languish there. In all these sacrifices, fire (Agni) acts as mediator between men and gods. According to Vedas, Agni’s many tongues (of fire) belong to the gods and consume the food offered in sacrifices.

Western mythology.

Hades not only is the hell but also the god of death or ruler of the world of death. The Virtuous land in Elysium, a land of perpetual daylight. Cerberus keeps a vigil at the gates of hell keeping the dead in and the living out. Charon is the ferryman who screens, counts, loads, and takes the dead to the land of the dead across river Styx and Acheron to Hades and hands them over to Cerberus, who sends the real bad ones (the offender of gods on earth) to Tartarus the basement of Hades, where they suffer severe punishments. Charon is portrayed as the embodiment of ugliness and old age with hideous prune-face, long white beard and scary piercing eyes. Hades (or  Pluto) abducts Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demetet and anoints her as the queen of Hades. She is allowed to leave the Netherworld and vacation on the surface of the earth for part of the year.

4.32: Thus, many forms of sacrifices show (are spread out) on the face of Brahman (Brahmanah mukhe). You should know that all these are born of work and knowing thus, you will be liberated or attain to moksa.

"Spread out on the face of Brahman:" It is like saying, "It is written all over His face." The words come out of Brahma’s mouth and appear in the Vedas. It means that all sacrifices using the body, mind, knowledge, intelligence or any other faculty would lead one to moksa or liberation. The actions and paths to liberation are many and depend on the tendencies of the sacrificer. Making known his eight-point formula to anyone with a receptive mind is supreme sacrifice by a Yogi; giving away his wealth to the needy is a form of sacrifice by a rich man. There may be a qualitative difference as said in the next verse. A man of knowledge giving his knowledge without expectation of a reward is a form of sacrifice. If one is willing to do sacrifice, there is a sacrifice to fit his station in life. According to Gandhi, no work done in the spirit of sacrifice is below human dignity, not even cleaning the toilet. Because of her work for the destitute, the least, the last and the loneliest in Calcutta and all over the world, Mother Theresa qualifies herself as a sacrificer. Her life and work are the readings of the Vedas, written on the face of the Lord. She may not be a Hindu, but she read the needs and the Vedas written on the faces of the needy.

4.33: Greater than the material sacrifice is the sacrifice of knowledge, O Parantapa. All works (karmakhilam) O Partha, find fulfillment in wisdom.

Karmakhilam : karma+akhilam = work+whole (without gap, completely)

Parismāpyate: attain or arrive at completion, find fulfillment



Sound is the origin of universe and beings.

Concept: Sound-Yoga is percolated Sabdabrahman

The Sound-yoga is orally taught only to initiated members.

Listening to the Internal Sound during meditation.

members: Irrespective castes or religion, acceptance after interview

Paul Brunton (October 21, 1898 - July 27, 1981) visits Yogi Sahabji Maharaj an

inspired dreamer, a serenely-minded Yogi, a practical man of the world and a polished gentleman in India of 1930s

His book  A Search in Secret India

A brief pause follows and then he asks my impressions of India's condition. I frankly criticize his country's neglect of modern ways of living, its slowness in picking up all those pleasant comforts, handy conveniences and mechanical inventions which improve man's brief sojourn in this world, its inattention to the demands of sensible hygiene and proper sanitation, and its excessive devotion to stupid social customs and cruel practices, which are supposedly based on religious practices. I tell him freely that priestly preoccupations seem to have kept India's  energies in a cul-de-sac with deplorable results. I instance some of the irrational things which I have seen done in the name of religion, but which merely succeed in proving how men can neglect or misuse the gift of intelligence which their God has bestowed upon them. My outspoken observations draw a definite assent from the lips of Sahabji Maharaj. "You have hit on the very points which form part of my programme of reform," he remarks, gazing at me reminiscently. "On the whole, it seems that many Indians expect God to do for them what they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves." "Exactly. We Hindus talk glibly of religion in order to cover up a lot of things which have nothing to do with religion. The trouble is that for the first fifty years or so a religion is pure and vital. Later it degenerates into a mere philosophy; its followers become talkers - not religiously-living men. Finally it descends,  for its last and longest phase, into the arms of hypocritical priests. In the end, hypocrisy becomes accepted as religion."

I  (Paul Brunton) gasp at such straightforward admissions. "What is the use of wrangling about heaven and hell, about God and so forth? Humanity finds itself on the physical plane and it ought not to neglect the matters which pertain to this plane.  Let us try to make our life here more beautiful and happier," he concludes. "That is why I have sought you out. Your disciples seem such fine men, straining to be as practical and up-to-date as any European, making no parade of religion but living good lives, and withal they keep to their Yoga practices with faithful regularity."

Sahabji smiles in acknowledgment.

"I am glad you have observed that," he replies quickly. "By setting up these activities at Dayalbagh I am attempting to show the world the same thing - that a man can be perfectly spiritual without running away to caves, and that he can reach the highest attainments in Yoga while carrying on with worldly avocations." "If you can succeed in that effort, the world may think a lot more of Indian teachings than it does now." "We are going to succeed," comes the confident answer.

Sahabji Maharaj possesses a magnetic personality which fascinates me (Paul Brunton). He is a curious mixture of American alertness and practicality, British predilection for correct conduct and Indian devoutness and contemplativeness. He is a type which is rare in the modern world. Over one hundred thousand men and women have entrusted the guidance of their inner lives to this man, yet he sits there in quiet modesty and humility, this unassuming master of the Radha Soamis.

4.34: Learn this knowledge by prostrating at the feet of the men of wisdom, by inquiring, and by performing service to them. The self-realized seers of Truth or revealed knowledge will reveal that knowledge to you. 

Pranipathēna: prostrate at the feet in submission. Pariprasnena: to inquire about.

The feet of the Lord, Guru, teacher, parents, and elders are sacred in Hinduism. The seat of spiritual wisdom is the head; the seat of love is the heart. Why are then the feet so important? When one takes a stand, he stands on one's feet and also on his principles. Thus feet and principles are analogous. Prostrating at the feet of a Guru is looking up at and following the principles of the Guru. The head of the pupil comes into contact with the feet and the principles of the Guru.

A story from Khāndayoga Upanishad, fourth Khanda is in order here: Once upon a time, there was a boy, by name Satyakāma, interested in the study of Vedas. Those days an aspiring student had to know his lineage before a guru accepted him for studies. His mother Gabālā said that she was not sure about his lineage, since she was pregnant with him, while she was waiting on the guests in her father's house. The boy went to a Guru by name Gautama Hāridrumata and gave him the details of his birth history. The Guru, impressed by his honesty, accepted him as a student saying that only a Brahmana boy would speak such truth. He initiated him with offerings in a fire ceremony and sent him out to tend four hundred lean emaciated and weak cows. The boy said to himself that he would return to the Guru with one thousand cows. (Note humility and reverence in accepting such a menial task. What is the connection between tending cows and learning about Brahman?) When the herd became one thousand, a bull alerted him and over a few days during the fire ceremony in the evenings, the bull, and the fire, the hamsa (swan or flamingo), and the diver bird taught him all about Brahman: "You should meditate on the four feet of the Brahman." The bull said, "Brahman is found wherever you see." As he worshipped fire, a voice came over from the fire and said, "Brahman is the earth, the ocean, the sky, and the heavens." Hamsa bird flying by, the next evening said, "The fire you worship is Brahman; the sun, the moon and the lightning are Brahman." Next evening the diver-bird said, "The breath, the eye, the ear, and the mind are Brahman." When the Satyakāma reached the teacher, the teacher noticed a glow on his face and inquired who his teacher was. He replied that he learned from nature and animals and that he would like to take lessons from an Acharya to know the Real Goodness (the Supreme). The Acharya or Guru imparted him the same knowledge. The student met all the qualifications to become a fit student; he sought wise man; he was humble, reverent, and inquiring; he was of service to his Guru. The glow on his face and the light in his eyes are external signs of inner glow of the Soul in his heart. The voices he heard were his own and he gained jnāna and Vijnāna (knowledge and wisdom) while thinking, and tending cows.

    Brahma Upanishad says that Brahman shines in four quarters: navel, (Nabhi), heart (Hrdya), throat (Kantha), and head (Murdha). These centers correspond to the (four) lotuses (Kundalini Yoga) at Manipura (navel), Anahata (heart), Visuddhi (throat), Sahasrara (head).

            Taittiriya Upanishad (3.1.1) records a conversation between Varuna and his son Bhrgu Muni.  Varuna, upon questioning from Bhrgu Muni who Brahman is, answers that Brahman is annam (food), pranam (life-breath), caksus (observation), srotram, (sense perception), mano (mind), and vacam (speech).  Annam is matter, observation is sight, and srotram is hearing. That, from which these come, by which they live, into which they enter upon death, and which you want to know, is Brahman.

        Sri Vaishnava SampradAyam regards Narayana as the very First Acharya, His Consort Pirati (Sri or Lakshmi) as the 2nd Acharya, VishvaksEna His Commander in Chief as the 3rd one, NamAlvAr, Nathamuni, Uyyakkondar, Manakkal Nambi, Yamunacharya, Alavandar, Peria Nambi, Ramanuja as the subsequent Acharyas. 

4.35: Knowing this, you will never again become subject to delusion like this, O Pandava. By this, you will see all living beings in the self and then in Me.

You heard about telling "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God." The court-truth is close but not close enough. Vedantic Truth knows that this world is a superimposition on the Absolute, which is Brahman, according to Monistic doctrine. Everything came from Brahman and everything dissolves in Brahman; Brahman is you who are sentient; Brahman is also the insentient chair (an object). When we say God, we mean the Atman residing in the temple of your body. Every time you recognize there is an Atman or God in the person you are facing, the bondage breaks, freedom rings, and realization sets in: the God in heaven is no more of a God than the Atman in you. The worship in the temple, the mosque, or the church is not any better than worshipping God or Atman or Brahman in you in the privacy of your house or anywhere at anytime. We are transient superimposition on the Absolute; time, space, and causation are responsible for our transience. "Neti, Neti," meaning "Not This, Not This," tells us that we have to deny this universe and believe in Atman. Neti, Neti points out nonduality and Oneness of Brahman, which is not an object available for elucidation. It is the inner Self, and the gods (god is superior to men, but not equal to God or Brahman) get their glory by getting a little of Its Efficacy or Inner Glow. Ramanuja said that Brahman, Vishnu, or Narāyana is Sarvesvara, the Lord of all gods. He does not believe in superimposition. The souls and the universe form the body of Vishnu.

Our birth and rebirth are conditional on karma and when the karmic inflows stop and a zero-sum endpoint is within reach with regard to karma, realization sets in and we merge with Brahman. A loaded karma like a loaded pistol is trouble. No one should let the unsettling karmic inflows burden his subtle body, for they lay the groundwork for rebirth. For the person with no karmic load, there is neither heaven nor hell, which is immaterial, because he is one with One, that is Brahman or Bliss. What is better for an individual soul, heaven, or Bliss? Bliss wins. God living in heaven, going to heaven or hell, and belief in one God and not in another are all partial truths. We are infinite, because Atman is infinite. Karma gives that finite existence in a body to the infinite soul. You heard the expression "You have a friend in PA," and now you have a friend in your Atman. Go no further. He is inside you and He is the light. Man created God in his own image and not the other way round. God is Consciousness. If man created God in his own image, it is certain that all other beings, if capable, would create God in their own images. So we have one God and as many images as beings. If the insentient have sentience, they would also imagine god in their own image. This goes to tell that God is One but has many manifestations. Why should God have a human form? Putting a human face on God is putting a limit on His personality and manifestations. Why cannot He look like a cow? If you ask a cow who her God looks like, the obvious answer is God looks like a cow. We have been looking for God all over, never realizing that He is deep within you. It is the Atman in you, It is the light in you, and It is the voice in you. As Jesus Christ said" honor thy father and mother, and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" -Mt. 19:19). Jesus said that because He knew that thy neighbor has the same Atman that you have. If you cannot see God in thy neighbor or parents, how is it possible that you can see God in the sky or the clouds? The father, the mother and the neighbor are reflections of the Atman in you and if you do not love them, you do not love yourself. Joseph Campbell relates a story, which typifies this metaphysical unity. A man was getting ready to jump off a cliff by two police officers in the patrol car. The police officer on the passenger side rushed out and caught the victim in the act and he found himself hanging precariously off the cliff. The second police officer rushed and rescued both of them. The first police officer, on questioning why he risked his life for the victim, he replied that he would not have been able to live with himself, had he not done that. The police officer was saving himself by saving the victim. Schopenhauer says the crisis represents the emergence of metaphysical realization that you and the other are the same separated by time and space. 

Truth has many sides, many depths, and many views, and is neither all right nor all wrong. It is a journey from one truth to another truth and is from a lower to higher truth. The proof of the highest Truth is absorption into the Absolute or Brahman. The Truth is the hub and the spokes of the wheel are the paths leading to the Truth. How far away you are from the hub tells you how far away you are from the Truth.

4.36: Even if you are the greatest or the worst sinner of all sinners, you will certainly cross over sins or wickedness by the boat of knowledge or wisdom.

Karma and Samsāra are twins. Samsāra means “passing through, wandering” and by extension, “transmigration of the soul or metempsychosis.” Samsāra is bondage of the soul on this earth because of birth and rebirth. “As a man sows, so shall he continue to reap.” See Chapter Two Verse 42-43 Commentary on Karma. This karmic load lightens with sattvic acts, which do not upload or send injurious inflows into the subtle body. So crossing the ocean of Samsāra with a heavy load of karma is a hazard. Some see rigidity in this principle of reward and punishment according to one's karmic load. The recommended yogas are Kundalini yoga, Karma yoga, Raja yoga, Jnāna yoga, or Bakhti yoga. Attainment of true knowledge releases man from karmic consequences. These tasks of resolution of karma are painful for an ordinary person. What can an average person do? The sages, gurus and Acharyas came up with several prescriptive solutions: Alvars and Ramanuja recommended Prapatti and Bhakti yoga of which Prapatti is total surrender to God as the only refuge and Bhakti is complete unswerving devotion to God. The primary cause of moksa is God's grace and the secondary cause is devotee's sādhana: effort by the devotee to gain moksa or liberation. God, according to this, is the means and the goal. Only Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, and Vaisyas can perform Jnāna yoga, Karma yoga, and Bhakti yoga. Sudras were left to their own devices.

For an article on Prapatti by Sri Swami Sivananda

Let me give you the history of development of PRAPATTI (Absolute Self-Surrender) to show how a Sudra saint overcame the obstacles. The most famous Sudra Saint Nammalvar devised, practiced, propounded and taught Prapatti which is total self-surrender to God with six conditions for its fulfillment:

God-pleasing acts

             Avoidance of God-displeasing acts

Humility, helplessness, vulnerability because of proven ineligibility to practice Yogas

Absolute and irreconcilable faith in God

Supplication to God for protection

Prayerful pleading with God to safe-keep one's self

The sixth is the centerpiece. Here is the Greatest Soul who did not fight the system, but studied the system inside out and devised ways to overcome the obstacles. If you take evolution, you will see that an organism changes its own devices to thrive in an adverse environment. The organism brought about an internal change to live in an adverse environment rather than change its milieu. It was Sri Ramanuja himself, the propounder of Visistadvaita, who adopted Prapatti. To practice Prapatti and Saranāgatti, that are available to all, is to seek equal access to God; and one does not have to be a Brahmana, a Ksatrriya or a Vaishya to practice it, as it is the case in Jnana, Raja and Bhakti Yoga.

In Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), sins are of three types: Ati-Pātakas, extreme sins; Mahāpātakas, major sins; and Upapātakas, minor sins. Extreme sins include coital liaison with one’s birth mother, daughter or daughter-in-law. There is no known expiation or redemption for this type of sin. Major sins include killing of Brahmanas (priests), drinking alcoholic beverages, thieving, coital contact with preceptor’s spouse, and association with the perpetrators of above acts (Laws of Manu11.55). Minor sins include stealing metals, grains, and cattle; engaging in coitus with a drinking woman; and killing a woman, a servant, Sudras, Vaisyas, and Ksatriyas. Punishments vary according to the intrinsic worth of the victim and are very numerous. It ranges from flagellation, penance, self-humiliation by walking with animals and inhaling the dust, self-immolation, self-mutilation and death. Killing of an owl or a crow draws punishment reserved for killing a Sudra. The Laws of Manu describes crime and punishment in the eleventh chapter.

All crimes carry a karmic load and the perpetrator suffers for his crimes in his next life, if he escapes punishment in this life. A man with a bad skin disease could have violated his guru’s wife in the past life. A snitch is born with halitosis. A reviler is born with a bad case of sinusitis (bad smell coming from the nose). A man who stole gold from a Brahmana suffers from bad nails. A murderer of a Brahmana suffers from consumption or tuberculosis. Cutting a green tree for firewood and killing an owl are listed as crimes. Manu must have had precognition.

4.37: As the blazing fire renders the wood into ashes, O Arjuna, even so the fire of knowledge turns all actions to ashes.

We know knowledge is power. Knowledge is also fire that reduces all sins to ash, removing karma. Actions create karma; and once karma is out, Bliss is in. What is that fire of knowledge? Brahman is the only One and He is Bliss: that is knowledge. The self is in the Self, which is imperishable and lives in all beings. Knowing is there is ONE BEING (that is HIM) in all beings.

4.38: Nothing exists in this world for comparison, when it comes to knowledge as the purifier. He, who has been perfect in yoga of knowledge for a long time, finds it in his own self in due course of time.

According to Yoga Sutras, there are personality types, fit for yoga. You heard about personality types like type A and type B. Yogis studied the minds of people and divided them into five kinds:

Kshipta Chitta: This mind is subject to distraction or absent. Rajasic personality is the underlying characteristic meaning there is motion and passion. If you know what a motor-mouth is, this qualifies as a motor-mind: There is no focus; it is not an ideal mind for yoga. Kshipta = scattered, distracted. Kshipta Chitta = Addlehead, Scatterbrain

Mudha Chitta: This is a dull and forgetful mind dominated by Tamasic personality, meaning darkness, sluggishness, and general malaise. Mûdha = stupid, dull. Mudha chitta = muddlehead.

Vikshipta Chitta: This is a distraught and agitated mind with periods of calmness and Sattva. Vikshipta = bewildered, agitated. Vikshipta Chitta = Rattlehead.

Ekagra Chitta: This is a one-pointed and trainable mind, which can practice yoga. EkAgra = one-pointed, having one point. Ekagra Chitta = laser head.

Niruddha Chitta: This is a restrained mind, most suitable for yoga practice. Niruddha = restrained. Niruddha Chitta = good head.

(Epithets are for entertainment only and no insult is intended.)

However, there are Klesas  (affliction) or obstacles like avidya (ignorance), asmi-ta (egotism), rāga (desire), dvesha (aversion), and abhinivesa (tenacity to mundane existence or attachment to life). The sacred texts say there is nothing wrong in having these qualities of ignorance and ego, desire, aversion, and attachment to life. What is in error is the identification with the objects of these klesas. Let me elaborate further on these points. Ego: If one's ego succumbs to purusa (spirit), it is a good ego. Desire: if you desire for the knowledge of the self, it is a good desire. Aversion: If you have an aversion to greed, it is a good aversion. Tenacity to life: If the yogi likes life to ascend the eight angas (steps) to gain kaivalya or samādhi, it is a good life. It is the attitude and the objects of these qualities that matter. These klesas are instruments and how the yogi or a person uses them is what matters.

    Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says that residual ego in a Sattvic person serves humanity. He gives the instance of Sankara retaining the ego of Vidya for the express purpose of teaching others. Hanuman, Narada, Sanaka, Sananadana, and Sanatkumara  retained the ego of service to God. Adapted from Sayings of Ramakrishna page 52 Sayings 134-135.  Narada is the mind-born son of Brahma goes everywhere by the strength of his Tapas, knows everything, is tranquil by nature, shows kindness to all and writes poetry.

    Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharishi, Jesus Christ, Buddha retained the ego of knowledge (Brahmavidya or Vidya); they kept their individuality to "mark the separate existence" to teach others the redemptive Truths of their religion or belief system.

  Buddhists have a longer list of klesas, ten of them: murder, theft, adultery, lying, slander, abuse, useless conversation, covetousness, malice, and skepticism.

4.39: With control of the senses and single-minded devotion, a man of  faith gains wisdom. Having achieved that, he gains supreme peace soon. 

Read commentary on Verse 36. Controlling the senses, having constant faith in the ever-maturing knowledge, and having his mind focused on it, will help an individual gain peace. Slowly he draws closer and closer to Brahman as he distances himself further and further from sense indulgence, ignorance and weak faith. Eventually he is ready for realization.

Bhagavan is RishIkEsa (இருடிகேசன் = commander, ordainer, controller of the senses). Bhagavan recommends control of the senses to direct the mind to single-minded devotion to Him.

4.40: A know-nothing fool with no faith and many doubts perishes. For such a doubting soul, neither in this world nor in the next world there is happiness.

Ignorance, lack of faith and many doubts are the three evils that prevent man from knowing the real nature of the self. With these handicaps, such people will enjoy neither the material world nor the next world. It is in his destiny that he will go through the cycle of births and rebirths and will be lost in the ocean of samsāra buffeted by waves of misery, with no rudder or guidance. Where is the hope that such a person will achieve peace, liberation, or moksa? Understanding Brahman is possible only by those who have the faith that "He is." "He is" means that he is the Subject and never an object, the Reality and Existence, the repository of all blessed qualities, and can be understood NOT by ordinary means or intelligence, BUT by faith, yoga and intuition. Yoga is unity of concentration and purpose to find and attain to Brahman. When a person abandons the path of desires, the path of Brahman opens.

4.41: Actions do not bind him, who has renounced his work by yoga, removed his doubts by wisdom, and owns his soul, O Dhananjaya.

4.42: Therefore, cutting apart this doubt in your heart born of ignorance with the sword of wisdom, establish yourself in yoga and stand up, O Bharata.

End of Chapter 4