Victory over Death

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. This article summarizes verses 14-28 from Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad Gita. 

Verses 14-16: Constant Remembrance

Can one remember something constantly? If there is a personal aspect of divinity that you feel connected to, can you remember that all the time? You are so busy with work and family responsibilities, that you do not have time to take care of yourself, where is the time for remembrance of divinity. The closest experience you may have had to constant remembrance if the time you fall in love. 

Remember when you were teenager completely infatuated with someone from school? You thought about your Beloved all the time. Did you constantly think about this person's name? No, not likely. You would not keep repeating this person's name. May be you imagined your Beloved was with you, but not all the time. When you were completely and madly in love, you felt a terrible sense of pain or separation. This is love in separation and you felt it all the time. To remember that divinity all the time is like falling madly in love. You are not, however, in love with a person, you are in love with the Divine, the all-encompassing, all pervading. 

In all spiritual traditions the beautiful relationship of mother and child has been highlighted. Sri  Krishna as a baby with Yashoda Ma or baby Jesus and Mother Mary. It is the symbol of unconditional love. Anyone who has had a child or knows someone who has had a baby has experienced or seen that a mother is intensely connected to her baby. The mother is mentally and emotionally with her baby all the time the bond. This is another example of how the mind can be with the divinity all the time. 

It is this deep bond and constant longing that is meant by constant remembrance.

Verses 17-19: Cycles of Time

There are many cycles that give us a sense of time. The most basic and obvious is the cycle of day and night caused by the rotation of the Earth. The solar cycles gives us the different seasons that repeat every year. Similary, in different spiritual traditions, there has always been a cyclical concept of ages.  In the Indian tradition, we have four ages or yugas: Satyuga, Dvaparyuga, Tretayuga and Kaliyuga. Together these 4 yugas make a mahayuga and a thousand mahayugas makes one day of Brahma.

The Bhagavad-Gita speaks of what science is only just beginning to understand, a cyclical concept of the universe, emerging out of the cosmic egg in a big bang and then eventually contracting and returning back in to its original form.  The ancient Sages called it Pralaya, the evolution of the universe called the day of Brahma and then its subsequent involution back into the unmanifest called the night of Brahma.  All the beings return to the unmanifested form at the coming of the night. This cyclical nature of time was already understood by the ancients long before the advent of quantum physics and astrophysics. 

Thus these verses are about the macrocosm. Do we need to study quantum physics and astrophysics to attain in our spiritual journey? No, we do not need to go in to a deep study of physics. It is enough to understand the universe is impermanent, yet it is imperishable. Everything is recycled, it returns to the source, but nothing really dies. We get attached to all the things around us, car, house, family.  All this will return to an unmanifest form. All this is perishable or “nashvar” and at the same time, there is something behind this, the unmanifest, which is always the same, always eternal and then we keep that larger perspective in our mind, we do not get so caught up with these little things in life. It gives us a larger perspective.

Verses 20-22: The Imperishable and the Eternal

Purusha, the Cosmic Self is Pure Consciousness. It is the imperishable, indestructible syllable OM. This unchanging, imperishable Pure Consciousness is our true nature and even if we may not be identified with the Cosmic Self, we can contemplate and accept that there is something besides the perishable, known as “nashvar”. Do not get attached to the “nashvar”. Hold the imperishable and eternal Om in your heart.

Verses 23-26: The Solar and Lunar Paths

Verses 9-13 of this chapter explain how to leave the body consciously. This is a path for adepts who can decide when and where they want to live the body. At the chosen hour, they establish kumbhaka and pass through the Brahma nadi to leave the body through the sahasrara chakra. What can you do, if you do not know how to leave the body consciously? Verses 5-8 explain that the time of departure is a chance to attain liberation.

There are two paths, the path of light and the path of darkness. The path of light is during the daytime, during the moon lit fortnight, when the moon is waxing is the auspicious time. The six months, when the sun is in the Northern solstice, that is summertime, is auspicious to depart from your body. On the other hand to depart during the night or during the dark fortnight, or during the winter months is considered inauspicious. 

There is a deeper meaning to the path of the sun and the moon. 

Sun is the symbol of the conscious mind. The moon on the other hand symbol of the unconscious mind. This means if you leave the body when you are conscious, and experience the separation and  transition consciously you can be liberated. Mantra traditions prepare the seekers for this transition. Over the years of practice the meditator acquires proficiency in the mantra, so that during the transition period the mantra comes forward and leads you to the other shore.This would be the solar path or the path of light. This is not the same as a yogi, who chooses when to drop his body and depart consciously through the sahasrara chakra but all the same the meditator has the chance to be conscious while dying. 

Often people say that they want to die peacefully in sleep. Imagine you are dreaming and in your dream you die. Now you don't know whether you really died or you had a dream of dying. This would be an unconscious death. This is the path of darkness, an unconscious death. Almost everyone dies unconsciously.

Thus the path of light is a conscious death and the path of darkness an unconscious death.

Verses 27-28: Mastery over conscious and unconscious mind

The conscious part of your mind is right now reading but there is an unconscious part, which you are not really aware of. As you are reading about death, an image of yourself as an old person stirs in the unconscious mind but it is quickly suppressed by the conscious mind. As you keep reading about death, separation and transition to the other shore, there may be images in your unconscious mind of yourself getting sick and dying suddenly. Quickly the conscious mind intervenes and this image is also suppressed. A fear may arise of having an accident, but the fear is also suppressed. These images are already in your mind but the conscious mind is not aware of them. 

The Yogi, who knows the mysteries of both, the conscious as well as the unconscious mind, has a complete understanding of the mind. Such a great One can go beyond the mind and witness everything. He alone knows both paths, the solar path as well as the lunar path. 

This wisdom cannot be integrated without a spontaneous mystical experience or gradually through systematic practice. With a deeper understanding of your own conscious and unconscious mind, you can know both these paths, the solar as well as the lunar. You too can be a great yogi and not merely talk about great masters and sages. Aspire to be like them, do not be satisfied with mere intellectual reading and understanding.

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